Lightning Strike Survivors Group Blasts Drew Brees Promotional Stunt Amid Twitter Firestorm, “Disgusting.”

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch

A publicity stunt orchestrated by PointsBet USA and New Orleans Saints Legend Drew Brees generated major backlash on social media Friday after Brees led the public to believe he had been struck by lightning to promote a Sportsbook. Now an advocacy group is shaming the legendary quarterback, calling the stunt “inappropriate” and “disgusting.”

The incident unfolded on Twitter Friday when a filmmaker tweeted a video of Brees on set filming a commercial in Venezuela, in an area famous for an insane amount of lightning strikes. The whole sky behind Brees is lighting up throughout the video. The tweet described how the quarterback was struck by lightning while filming a promo. The realistic looking video shows Brees being mic’d on set when suddenly a flash of light that appeared to be lightning sends the filmmakers and the quarterback running and screaming.

As the video went viral, many worried whether Brees had survived the strike, which later turned out to be fake. Millions of people viewed the video on social media and PointsBet even issued a statement saying it was aware of the situation but provided no clarity on Brees’ condition or whether he was even alive.

Finally, after an ESPN reporter tweeted that she had texted Brees and confirmed he was fine, PointsBet released a video of Brees in an ambulance joking that he was buzzing for a weekend of free bets and making it clear that the whole stunt was intended for publicity. Brees then pretends to get struck by lightning a second time.

The stunt reportedly enraged lightning strike victims, according to TMZ, which spoke to the Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors International — an organization that spans 13 countries and helps people impacted by lightning strikes.

“The recent Drew Brees lightning commercial is an inappropriate, disgusting method of promoting gambling or any TV commercial campaign,” a statement from the organization read.

“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.”

The organization did not find any humor in the situation and called it “inappropriate” and “disgusting.”

“To poke fun at these folks and make this injury trivial is unacceptable, and what example does it set for our children to learn?” it said, highlighting that many people’s lives are severely impacted by lightning strikes.

“As a survivor, this is very disturbing, the thoughtlessness on the part of the participants who are trying to profit from tragedy is remarkable. Much progress through hard work and education has been made over the last twenty years to lower the lightning/electrical deaths and risk of injury through education and informed knowledge of the dangers.”

The org. told TMZ that Brees’ ad “just set us back 20 years.”

“There are many groups working to educate the public and help survivors, this commercial nullifies all their work and encourages unsafe practices to the general public. And all for gambling … Lightning Bets? How ignorant can you possibly be?”

No comment from Brees yet. However, after the stunt was unveiled to be fake, Brees joked that he was struck because the lightning thought he was wearing a Falcons jersey and shouted out to New Orleans Saints Fans with a “Who Dat.”