It’s not uncommon for NFL stars to be featured in beer commercials. But these are not typical times.
Over the last several months, Bud Light has become one of the most polarizing brands in America, due to its short-lived partnership with transgender TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney. Way back in April, Bud Light teamed up with Mulvaney for a couple of social media ads, and MAGA crybabies have been whining ever since.
With that context in mind, many high-profile pro athletes may opt to stay away from endorsing Bud Light. But not Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. The two-time Super Bowl champ is starring in a new ad for the beleaguered beer company, and doesn’t seem to care about the performative backlash.
That’s a championship-level move.
The 15-second spot, titled “Grunts,” pokes fun at the audible noises that men make when they grab a cold one and plop down on their favorite chair. Kelce is front and center, dishing out head nods and a nice “yeahhh” at the end of the commercial. (NFL rules prohibit Kelce from actually drinking beer during the ad.)
It doesn’t take a lot of social media perusing to see the vitriol that Kelce is facing for his affiliation with Bud Light. But unsurprisingly, it seems like those ripping Kelce are just offering hot air. The eight-time Pro Bowler has added over 100 followers per day on Instagram since the ad was released, according to Newsweek.
Kelce, for his part, is an A-lister in the making. Fresh off winning his second Super Bowl in February–the Chiefs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in an absolute thriller–he hosted Saturday Night Live. His monologue was spectacular and self-deprecating.
Kelce poked fun at the inordinate amount of coverage his family received leading up to the Super Bowl, given that his brother, Jason, plays for the Eagles. “I got to play against my brother Jason. And my mom was on TV more than most of us,” he quipped.
Kelce’s best material came towards the end of his monologue, when he acknowledged the failure of his short-lived reality dating show, “Catching Kelce.”
“It was like ‘The Bachelor,’ except instead of roses I handed out footballs, and instead of watching, people did not,” he said. “That show is owned by NBC Universal, so it should be on Peacock. But Peacock was like, ‘Nah, we good!”
While NFL stars occasionally host SNL–Peyton Manning is widely regarded as maybe the best athlete to ever step on stage–it’s rare for non-quarterbacks to receive the honor. Kelce’s spot on SNL speaks to his movie star affability and uniqueness.
He’s now in a rare group among some of the most famous athletes in history, including Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Tom Brady.
“I think he killed it,” said SNL creator Lorne Michaels. “He’s a natural. He was a presence from the moment he walked out.”
Kelce is on the cover of Vanity Fair‘s July/August issue, which has labeled this the “Summer of Kelce.” He’s recently signed with CAA, one of the top talent agencies in Hollywood.
Kelce doesn’t need to star in a Bud Light ad for cultural relevance, especially given that he plays in deep-red Missouri. Some of the state’s most prominent pols, including Senator Josh Hawley, have lambasted the company in recent months.
On the whole, NFL fans are more conservative than the general population, and that’s definitely the case in Kansas City. Nearly 59% of Chiefs fans identify as “right-leaning.”
Yet, Kelce is undeterred. The Chiefs star may only be grunting in the new Bud Light ad, but his presence speaks louder than any words.
Scroll down for some reaction to Kelce’s bold move…
I want to marry him.
— ATLTAK (@UNCTony87) July 8, 2023
Good for him.
— Alexander M. Santora (@padrehoboken) July 9, 2023
I like this dude.
— Christopher Dunlap (@Christo45986354) July 8, 2023
He doesnt care about the rube mob
— Mr Waterboat (@MrWaterboat43) July 8, 2023