The sale of towels is the viral electoral thermometer between Lula and Bolsonaro

The street sale of towels with the faces of President Jair Bolsonaro and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva became an electoral thermometer that went viral on social networks ahead of the Brazilian elections on October 2.

In Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the country’s two largest cities, street stalls with the star product of this polarized presidential campaign have proliferated in recent weeks: beach towels printed with images of the two favorite candidates.


Some vendors are publicly tallying each buyer’s preferences via a homemade marker on a whiteboard.

The images are circulating like wildfire on the internet and sales are going from strength to strength.

The phenomenon already has a name: “DataToalha” (DataToalla), alluding to DataFolha, the prestigious Brazilian demographic institute that on Thursday released a new survey that gave Lula 47% of the voting intentions and Bolsonaro 33%.

And like all the pollsters, El DataToalla is following the same path.

In the center of Sao Paulo, Fernando set up his stand behind a bus stop on Paulista Avenue, at the height of the headquarters of the Federation of Industries of the State of Sao Paulo, the most powerful employers’ association in Brazil, and he is delighted with the rate of sales.

“I am taking advantage of the contest to earn some money. The one that sells the most is Lula’s,” this 31-year-old street vendor told Efe, while a group of people took a photo of the scoreboard.

The result is overwhelming: “Bolsonaro 34-193 Lula.”

The price of each towel is 40 reais (7.6 dollars). There are also caps for each candidate for 30 reais (5.7 dollars).


Lopes works from Monday to Sunday and assures that he sells between 15 and 20 towels per day, most of the candidate of the Workers’ Party (PT).

“The Bolsonaristas complain a lot, they say that the scoreboard is a lie and that I’m campaigning for Lula,” but he assures: “It’s not true because I sell towels from both of them.”

They have already tried to bribe Lopes to manipulate the scoreboard in favor of the far-right leader. “A woman even offered me 700 reais (135 dollars), but I told her no,” he says.

He also recalls that another Bolsonaro supporter told him that he wanted to take 100 towels from the retired Army captain at once, but that he gave up when he was informed that the score is changed by client, not by the number of towels sold for each candidate.

The position of Lula’s supporters who are walking through Paulista this Friday is very different and walks between joy and longing for a victory for the leftist leader in the first round, a scenario anticipated by some polls.

“If I were rich, I would buy 1,000 Lula towels,” Julia Espindola, a 30-year-old nurse who came to this point with her sister after learning about it on social media, told Efe.

After half an hour, Lula has added two points (195) and Bolsonaro remains the same (34).

Lopes, who was left homeless by the economic blow of the pandemic with his wife and almost two-year-old daughter, now hopes that this unleashed fury will continue with an eventual victory for the former head of state (2003-2010) in The elections.

“Lula has not yet won the elections and is already creating jobs,” says Lopes ironically, who is betting on a defeat for Bolsonaro, whom he accuses of “never caring about the poor.”

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