The History of The Foam Finger


One of the most recognized promotional sports products is the foam finger. For many, it seems it has existed forever and is as old as spectator sports themselves. Just where did the foam finger come from and how did it become so popular for sports and campaign rallies?

Ottumwa High School YearbookThe foam finger is not very old at all. The first sighting of the oversized hand was in 1971 when Steve Chmelar built one out of hardware cloth and papier-mâché. He made it to cheer on his friends at Ottumwa High School as they competed in the Boys’ State Basketball Finals in Iowa that year.

Then, GeralFauss, a Texas high school teacher, invented the foam hand in 1978. He combined his love for technical illustration, design and sports. Faussmade histo show support for the football team who had made it to the state finals. He originally made it out of plywood and sold it to raise money for the industrial arts club.


Fauss’s success that year inspired him to launch a sports merchandise business. He sold his popular hands, now made of foam rather than plywood, at the 1978 Cotton Bowl and then founded Spirit Industries where the first polyurethane foam finger was produced in 1979.

The foam finger, which is a fake hand with the index finger pointing up, generally means “Number One Team” or “We are number one”. It’s usually associated with team sports, but has also been sited at political campaign rallies and at concerts and music festivals.

Since the late 1970s, the foam finger has taken on different shapes like the Vulcan salute, the peace or victory signand the “rock on” symbol with both the index and pinky finger pointing up. Another common image is the American Sign Language sign for ‘love’, with the thumb, index finger and pinky extended. Occasionally, depending on the team mascot, the hand will be a claw, hoof or paw. Get yours now at!

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