For a little while on Friday morning, many believed that former NFL quarterback Drew Brees had been struck by lightning while filming a commercial during an area in Venezuela that features many cloud-to-ground lightning strikes per day. He wasn’t.
The publicity stunt was, as such things go, fairly well executed. The initial accounts emerged via tweets in Spanish. PointsBet, the perpetrator of the poor-taste fake out, issued a vague statement in lieu of acknowledging that the video was phony.
Plenty of online know-it-alls acted like they knew it was fake all along. Few of them opted to say so before it became clear that Brees was fine.
In the end, it was indeed a marketing scam, aimed at drawing attention to “lightning” bets being offered by PointsBet.
Since then, the Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors International has spoken out about situation.
“The recent Drew Brees lightning commercial is an inappropriate, disgusting method of promoting gambling or any TV commercial campaign,” the group said in a statement issued to TMZ.com. “This is a deadly injury, and it is disappointing to see the continual ridicule of lightning and electrical injury survivors in comical light in which it is presented for commercial gain and profit.”
Lightning deaths are rare, but they happen. According to the CDC, 444 Americans died from lightning strikes from 2006 through 2021.
It’s indeed hard to see the humor or the appeal in the idea that Brees pretended to be struck by lightning. I know Brees well enough to have spent a chunk of Friday morning wondering whether he had actually died.
But, hey, it apparently worked. Maybe an upcoming Caesars sports book bit will create the impression that Peyton Manning was eaten by an alligator. Maybe DraftKings will make us think that Kevin Hart was swallowed by a boa constrictor. Maybe FanDuel will make it look like Pat McAfee got shot and killed in an actual duel with a fan.
I mean, the possibilities are now limitless. Get on it, Don Draper.