There are a lot of unique names in the state of Montana. Ekalaka, Alzada, Dupuyer are just a few city names that stray from a normal conventional name. There was a time though that one town in Montana changed their name for an entire football season.

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Ismay, Montana was founded in 1907. There is some debate on how they got the name Ismay.  It could have either been named after Isabelle and Mary Peck, the daughters of Gregory Peck a railroad official. Or it could have been named after Isabel and Mary Earling who the daughters of a different railroad official.

In 1993 though, the town changed their name to Joe, Montana. Yes they changed their name after NFL superstar Joe Montana. This was the year he left San Francisco and joined the Kansas City Chiefs.

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How the idea came about was a radio promotion. A station in Kansas City contacted Ismay and asked if they would change their name for a season. The town agreed and Joe, Montana was on the map.

They threw a big parade and had a celebration that drew over 2,000 people to the town of just over 20. Sadly the real Joe Montana wasn't on board with the name change and so after that 1993 season they went back to being called Ismay.


According to a Missoulian article I found, the town was able to do quite a bit of good by changing their name. They sold all sorts of items ranging from coffee mugs and golf balls to t-shirts. With the money raised they were able to build a community center, a fire hall and upgraded their fire truck.

Not bad deal for a radio promotion.

LOOK: The story behind every NFL team name

Stacker delved into the story behind every NFL football team name. Overall team records, also included, are reflective of NFL regular-season games. There are some football teams with well-known nicknames—the Jets, for instance, are often referred to as Gang Green—but we also divulge how some teams’ official names are sparingly used (the Jets’ neighbors, the Giants, are actually known as the New York Football Giants). Sometimes a team name can tell you a lot about local history: The Vikings of Minnesota draw upon the area’s strong ties to Scandinavia, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are dripping in local legend related to Florida’s pirate past.

Let’s kick off the countdown with the folks who earned their nickname by buying boxes of used team jerseys.

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