Three-peat

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In sports (especially in North America), a three-peat is winning three consecutive championships or tournaments. The term, a portmanteau of the words three and repeat, originated with the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association, during their unsuccessful campaign for a third consecutive championship during the 1988–89 season, having won the previous 2 NBA finals.

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The term is a registered trademark owned by Pat Riley, the Lakers' head coach from 1981 to 1990. The original owner and assignor of the underlying THREE-PEAT "mark" was Bijan Khezri, former president of P.d.P. Paperon De Paperoni, a Delaware corporation. Khezri submitted in November 1988 a trademark application for the use of three-peat on shirts, jackets and hats. Around that time, the phrase was being used by members and fans of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team, of whom Pat Riley was the head coach, regarding the Lakers' quest that season to obtain what would have been a third successive NBA championship. According to Riley, it was Laker player Byron Scott who cited the term in reference to the team's goal for that season.

After Khezri assigned the trademark to Riley, it remained an entity of Riles & Co., the corporate entity of National Basketball Association (NBA) coach Pat Riley. In 1989, Riles & Co. successfully registered the trademark under U.S. Registration Number 1552980. The Lakers did not win a third consecutive NBA championship in 1989, but the Chicago Bulls did in 1993, and Riles & Co. collected royalties from sports apparel makers who licensed the phrase for use on merchandise commemorating that accomplishment.

Riles & Co. subsequently obtained additional registrations expanding the trademark to cover many other kinds of merchandise in addition to apparel. The company then went on to reap additional profits by again licensing the phrase to merchandisers when the Bulls again won three consecutive NBA championships from 1996 through 1998, as well as when the New York Yankees won three straight World Series championships from 1998 through 2000 and when the Lakers won three straight NBA championships from 2000 through 2002. For the Lakers, it was their second in franchise history, and only the first since moving from Minneapolis. As of 2024, the Lakers are the last team of the 4 major American professional sports (NHL, MLB, NFL, & NBA) to accomplish the three-peat.

While originating in the United States, the three-peat has been replicated all over the world across different sports. In recent times, Spanish association football club Real Madrid notably became the first club of the modern era to win three consecutive UEFA Champions League titles (2015–16, 2016–17 and 2017–18).

The trademark registration for three-peat has been challenged over the years by those who argue that the term has become too generic in its usage for the trademark to continue to be applicable. However, such arguments have yet to succeed, with the registration continuing to be upheld by the United States Patent and Trademark Office as recently as 2001, in the case of Christopher Wade v. Riles & Co. This challenge documented the transfer of assignment from Khezri to Riles & Co., and upheld the validity of the trademark as originally conceived.

In 2005, a group of individuals attempted to trademark the phrase Three-Pete in anticipation of the (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt that year by the 2005 USC Trojans football team to win a third consecutive national championship. The change in spelling was a reference to the team's head coach, Pete Carroll. However, the Patent Office ruled that the change in spelling was not dissimilar enough from Riles & Co.'s three-peat, and denied the registration. Later that year, U.S.C. fan Kyle Bunch began selling his own "Three-Pete" T-shirts. He discontinued sales once he was notified that he was infringing upon the Riles & Co. trademark.

As of late 2007, the trademark "Three Peat" is still active for shirts, jackets, caps, etc., and for commemorative mugs, plates, etc., and also for posters, bumper sticker, etc. The similar "3 Peat" became a registered trademark of Riles & Co. for blankets and other bedding, as of June 2015. Some of the Riles & Co. trademarks are no longer in effect, e.g. keychains.[ citation needed ]

Origin and trademark

In a comedic context, the same play on words, additionally incorporating the name "Pete", is known to have been used as early as 1930 on the radio program Empire Builders . The episode of that program broadcast on December 29, 1930, featured a trio of singers dubbed "The Three Visiting Firemen: Pete, Re-Pete, and Three-Pete". [1]

The Oxford English Dictionary credits an Illinois high school senior, Sharif Ford, with the earliest published use of the word in the March 8, 1989, edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch . Ford's quote uses the term in a sporting context and serves to provide a clear etymology as well:

The Lincoln High Tigers say they want to "three-peat". "You know, kind of like repeat, except doing it for the third time", senior Sharif Ford said.

Three-peats in North American leagues/championships

There have been numerous instances of teams winning three or more consecutive championships in the National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, National Football League, and Australian Football League, most of which occurred prior to the advent of the term three-peat.

North America: professional sports

All-America Football Conference

Champ Car World Series

Continental Basketball Association

Formula Drift

IZOD IndyCar Series

Major Indoor Soccer League

Major League Baseball (World Series)

NASCAR Cup Series

National Basketball Association (NBA Finals)

National Football League (NFL champions)

National Hockey League (Stanley Cup Finals)

Premier Hockey Federation (Isobel Cup)

  • 2020–2022   Boston Pride (2020 co-champions with Minnesota Whitecaps)

Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA Finals)

U.S. Open Cup

North America: collegiate sports

NACDA Director's Cup (overall collegiate athletics)

NAIA National Football Championship

NAIA National Basketball Championship

NCAA Division I Baseball

NCAA Division I Softball

NCAA Division I Football

Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS)
Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) [6]

NCAA Division I Men's Basketball

NCAA Division I Men's Water Polo

NCAA Division I Women's Basketball

NCAA Division I Men's Cross Country

NCAA Division II Women's Basketball

NCAA Division III Women's Basketball

NCAA Division I Women's Soccer

NCAA Division II Football Championship [7]

NCAA Division III Football [8]

U.S. National Collegiate Club Rugby championships

United States: tabletop games

Warhammer 40k American Team Championships [9]

United States: marching arts

Three-peats in domestic leagues/championships

Australian Football League

Australia

West Australian Football League

Association Football

Argentina

First Division (association football)

Belgium

Belgian Pro League

Brazil

Brazilian Championship

Bulgaria

Bulgarian A PFG

Chile

First Division (Association football):

Costa Rica

Costa Rica, American Football 1st Division:

Czech Republic

Czech National Basketball League:

Denmark

Danish Superliga

Finland

Veikkausliiga

  • 19982000 Haka
  • 20092014 HJK (6-peat)

France

Ligue 1

Germany

Bundesliga

DDR-Oberliga

Iraq

Iraq Stars League

Iraq FA Cup

Umm al-Ma'arik Championship

Iraqi Super Cup

Iraq Central FA Premier League

Iraqi Futsal Premier League

Israel

Liga Leumit

Israeli Premier League

Italy

Italian Football Championship

Serie A

Coppa Italia

Japan

J1 League

Netherlands

Eredivisie

Norway

Tippeligaen

Portugal

Primeira Liga

Russia

Russian Football Premier League

Russian Futsal Super League

Slovenia

Slovenian PrvaLiga

Spain

La Liga

Copa del Rey

South Korea

K League 1

Sweden

Allsvenskan

Turkey

Süper Lig

United Kingdom

English football first tier

FA Cup

Scottish Premier League

USSR

Soviet Top League

Yugoslavia

Yugoslav First League

Baseball

Puerto Rico

Baseball

Japan

Nippon Professional Baseball

South Korea

KBO League

Basketball

Argentina

Liga Nacional de Básquet

France

LNB Pro A

Germany

Basketball Bundesliga

Iraq

Iraqi Basketball Premier League

Iraqi Basketball Perseverance Cup

Israel

Israeli Basketball Premier League

Italy

Lega Basket Serie A

Philippines

PBA

Puerto Rico

BSN basketball

Russia

Russian Basketball Super League 1 (1992-2010)

Russian Professional Basketball League

VTB United League

Slovenia

Premier A Slovenian Basketball League

Spain

Liga ACB

Spanish Cup

Spanish Super Cup

Switzerland

Swiss Basketball League

Turkey

Basketball Super League

Vietnam

VBA

Canadian Football

Canada

Canadian Rugby Union (pre 1958) / Canadian Football League (post 1958) (Grey Cup):

Collegiate women's basketball

Cricket

Australia

Queensland Premier Cricket T20

India

Indian cricket's Ranji Trophy

New Zealand

New Zealand cricket's Plunket Shield

Handball

Iraq

Iraqi Handball Premier League

Slovenia

Slovenian First League of Handball

  • 19912001 Celje (10-peat)
  • 20022008 Celje (6-peat)
  • 20132020 Celje (7-peat)

Spain

Liga ASOBAL

Copa del Rey

Ice Hockey

Australia

Australian Ice Hockey League

Rugby

Australia

New South Wales Rugby Football League/Australian Rugby League/National Rugby League

United Kingdom

Super League Super League Grand Final

English rugby union

Volleyball

South Korea

V-League

Three-peats in continental and international championships

Olympics

Summer Olympics

Athletics

Fencing

Field Hockey

Football

Swimming

Volleyball

Winter Olympics

Curling

Ice Hockey

Chess

World Chess Championships

Unofficial Championships (before 1886)

Pre-FIDE World Championships (1886–1946)

FIDE World Championships (2006–present)

Association Football

UEFA Champions League

UEFA Europa League

CONCACAF Champions League

South American football Copa Libertadores

CONMEBOL's Copa América

Cricket

Cricket World Cup

ICC Women's T20 World Cup

Darts

BDO World Darts Championship

PDC World Darts Championship

Flag of Scotland.svg Gary Anderson could have made a three-peat in 2015–2017 but lost 7-3 to Flag of the Netherlands.svg Michael van Gerwen in the final of the 2017 World darts championship.

Esports

Counter Strike

Counter Strike: Global Offensive

Competitive eating

Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest

Men
  • 1988-1990 Flag of the United States.svg Jay Green (1990 tied with Flag of the United States.svg Mike DeVito)
  • 1993-1994 Flag of the United States.svg Mike DeVito (1993 Independence Day, 1993 One-on-one Challenge with Japan, 1994 Independence Day)
  • 1996-1998 Flag of Japan.svg Hirofumi Nakajima (1996 One-on-one Challenge with Japan, 1997 and 1998 Independence Day)
  • 2001-2006 Flag of Japan.svg Takeru Kobayashi (6-peat)
  • 2007-2014 Flag of the United States.svg Joey Chestnut (8-peat)
  • 2016-2023 Flag of the United States.svg Joey Chestnut (8-peat)
Women

Golf

US Open

The Open Championship

PGA Championship

Handball

National team competitions

Men

IHF World Men's Handball Championship

IHF World Men's Outdoor Handball Championship

European Men's Handball Championship

Women

IHF World Women's Handball Championship

European Women's Handball Championship

Club competitions

Men

IHF Super Globe

EHF Champions League

EHF European Cup

EHF Cup Winner's Cup

EHF Men's Champions Trophy

Women

Women's EHF Champions League

International rules football

International Rules Series

International rules football games are held sporadically, hence the eight-year gap between 1990 and 1998.

Motorsports

Formula One World Champion

Champ Car World Series auto racing

Motorcycling

MotoGP

Motorboat racing

Formula 1 Powerboat World Championship

Rugby

Rugby Union

Women's Rugby World Cup

Rugby League

Rugby League World Cup

Women's Rugby League World Cup

Winter X Games

Winter X Games SuperPipe

Tennis

Davis Cup

  • 1903–1906 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg British Isles
  • 1907–1911 Flag of Australia (1903-1908).svg Australasia [11]
  • 1920–1926 Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg United States
  • 1927–1932 Flag of France.svg France
  • 1933–1936 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Great Britain
  • 1946–1949 Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg United States
  • 1950–1953 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Australia
  • 1955–1957 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Australia
  • 1959–1962 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Australia
  • 1964–1967 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Australia
  • 1968–1972 Flag of the United States.svg United States

Fed Cup

  • 1976–1982 Flag of the United States.svg United States
  • 1983–1985 Flag of the Czech Republic.svg Czechoslovakia
  • 1993–1995 Flag of Spain.svg Spain

Australian Open

Men's singles
Women's singles
Men's doubles
Women's doubles

French Open

Men's singles
Women's singles
Men's doubles
Women's doubles

Wimbledon

Gentlemen's singles
Ladies' singles
Gentlemen's doubles
Ladies' doubles

US Open

Men's singles
Women's singles
Men's doubles
Women's doubles

ATP World Tour Finals

Singles
Doubles

WTA Finals

Singles

Indian Wells Masters

Men's singles
Men's doubles

Miami Open

Men's singles
Women's singles
Men's doubles
Women's doubles

Monte Carlo Masters

Men's singles

Italian Open

Men's singles

Paris Masters

Men's singles

Dubai Championships

Men's singles

Barcelona Open

Men's singles

Halle Open

Men's singles

China Open

Men's singles

Swiss Indoors

Men's singles

The National Football League

In the National Football League (NFL), a Super Bowl championship three-peat has not been accomplished. Two-time defending Super Bowl champions who failed to three-peat include the Green Bay Packers (1968), Miami Dolphins (1974), Pittsburgh Steelers (twice: 1976, 1980), San Francisco 49ers (1990), Dallas Cowboys (1994), Denver Broncos (1999), and New England Patriots (2005). All of these teams failed to return to the title game in the third season (indicated in parentheses).

The Kansas City Chiefs are currently two-time defending Super Bowl champions following their wins in Super Bowl LVII in 2023 and Super Bowl LVIII in 2024.

The Buffalo Bills went to 4 consecutive Super Bowls as the AFC champions from 1990 to 1993, which is a feat unmatched in NFL history; however, they lost in every appearance.

The New England Patriots are the most recent team to play in three consecutive Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl LI in 2016 and Super Bowl LIII in 2018, but losing Super Bowl LII in 2017.

In the early years of the NFL, decades before the introduction of either the term three-peat or the Super Bowl, the Packers won three consecutive NFL titles from 1929 31. This was achieved without playing any postseason playoff games, as the league title was determined at that time from the season standings. In addition, the Packers won the NFL championship in 1965, at a time when the rival NFL and AFL played separate exclusive championships. They then followed that 1965 championship with their first two Super Bowl victories in 1966 and 1967 (their Super Bowl berths were earned by winning both the 1966 NFL Championship Game and 1967 NFL Championship Game), thereby winning championships three years in a row.

There have been efforts to come up with a similarly clever name for the potential fourth consecutive championship in the year following a three-peat. But attempts such as quat-row have thus far failed to catch on, and most fans simply use the term four-peat. Since the term three-peat came into usage, however, only one team in major American sports has been able to achieve it – Hendrick Racing/Jimmie Johnson NASCAR team, who won 5 championships in a row.

The wordplay of three-peat is clearer if repeat is stressed on the first syllable; this pronunciation is uncommon outside North America. Other English-speaking people may instead talk of a hat trick of championships, or simply a three-in-a-row.

There are also terms for winning three trophies in the same season:

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  11. 1910 competition was walked over.
  12. 4-peat if her pre-World War II 1940 title is included.
  13. 1 2 3 The Australian Open was not held in 1941–1945 due to World War II, indeed if the 1940 and 1946 tournaments are counted as straight versions Adrian Quist scores a ten-peat and John Bromwich an eight-peat.
  14. The December 1977 title was shared with their final rivals.
  15. The Australian Open was not held during 1986 due to date changes.
  16. 1 2 This is a rare example of a three-peat across the Amateur and Open Eras.