A viral video that appeared to show legendary U.S. quarterback Drew Brees get struck by lightning while filming a commercial sent fans into a concerned flurry Friday morning, but the flurry quickly turned to fury as they learned more.
A video from the filming of a PointsBet Sportsbook commercial was posted to Twitter Friday morning, shared by a Venezuelan filmmaker and retweeted by American sports commentator Amy Dash.
The 14-second video showed Brees getting ready to do the commercial spot, standing near the Catatumbo River in Venezuela, while lightning flashed in the background and crew worked around him. Suddenly, a bright flash appeared on the screen and the camera dropped while a woman yelled in the background.
“It is unclear why the commercial was being filmed in these conditions but this reportedly occurred overnight,” Dash tweeted after posting the video.
Shortly after, PointsBet issued a statement: “We are aware of the media coverage regarding PointsBet brand ambassador Drew Brees. We are in communication with Brees’ team and will continue to monitor events throughout the coming hours. At this stage we will not be making any further comment.”
Dash’s report lined-up with events posted to Brees’ Twitter account earlier in the week. The former New Orleans Saints quarterback tweeted on Monday that he was “excited to be flying to a top-secret location” later in the week where he would be filming a promo for PointsBet, a sports betting website.
However, in the hours after the video was posted, sports journalists began hearing from Brees, who reported that he was fine and not struck by lightning.
Hours later, PointsBet released a second video of Brees, where he revealed from the back of an ambulance that the video was just one big ploy to plug the company’s “lightning bets.”
At the end of the video, Brees is seen jumping out of an ambulance only to be electrocuted by an animated lightning bolt.
Brees also shared the original video on Instagram and Twitter, writing: “The lightning must’ve thought I was wearing a Falcons jersey, that’s why it tried to get me.] I’m fine…Who Dat!”
The marketing stunt left a lot of fans less than impressed.
Dash pointed out that the stunt, which attracted millions of view to her Twitter video, was “ill-conceived as it led to legitimate concern about (Brees’) well being,” and many agreed with her.
Sports news website Defector.com even used the headline “Drew Brees Struck By Idiotic Marketing Ploy, Not Lightning” to capture the public’s sentiment after the stunt.