FanDuel Depends On The Spot As It Takes A Gamble On Gronk

‘Kick of Destiny’ figures to be most attention-getting Super Bowl sportsbook ad yet
rob gronkowski partying

“What the heck is ‘Kick of Destiny’?”

Rob Gronkowski served as the voice of the people when he uttered those words in the first of three commercials released thus far for FanDuel Sportsbook’s Super Bowl promotion.

In the brief history of mobile sportsbook Super Bowl ads and promotions, this latest concept from FanDuel is the most eyebrow-raising — for better and/or worse.

At first glance, it seems awfully silly to have one of the all-time great tight ends trying to kick a field goal. And the money the operator is giving away if Gronk makes the kick — $10 million — only sounds like a lot until you start crunching numbers and realize that the credit dollars landing in each participating customer’s account figure to be in the single digits. Probably the low single digits.

But it’s going to get attention. It’s a live field goal attempt connected to an eight-figure giveaway. Every Super Bowl party features two types of people: those who are shushing others during the game, and those who are shushing others during the ads. This commercial has the potential to produce shushing from both sides.

Whether you placed a qualifying $5 or more Super Bowl bet on FanDuel and stand to win a few bucks or not, all eyes will be glued to Gronk as he tries not to go all Brett Maher on us.

The commercials didn’t spell out the distance from which Gronkowski will be trying to split the uprights, but the fine print on FanDuel’s site does: Destiny sits 25 yards away.

Anything can happen on live TV

Chip shot, right? For a professional kicker, yes. When extra points were 20-yarders in 2014, they were good 99.3% of the time. When PATs became 33-yarders the following season, that rate fell to 94.2%. Still, for someone who kicks for a living, a 25-yarder — with no defense to worry about — should be almost a sure thing. It’s probably a 98-99% deal for a pro.

But for a 33-year-old non-kicker? Even an athletically gifted one who “trained” with Adam Vinatieri (in what was by far the best of the three pre-Super Bowl Kick of Destiny spots)?

There’s no reason not to take the FanDuel folks at their word and trust that this will indeed be a live kick — which means it can fail. That would be something of a P.R. disaster, and we know today’s sports bettors who have come up in the era of the “bad beat refund” don’t just silently take their lumps. FanDuel may well decide to pump free bets and site credits into everyone’s accounts even if Gronk whiffs, but that won’t erase the awkwardness of him missing the kick in front of the 100 million or so Americans watching the Super Bowl and its much-hyped commercials.

Meanwhile, Hard Rock Sportsbook has gotten in on the fun, building its own promo around Gronk shanking it:

Ads nauseum

FanDuel isn’t the only sports betting operator buying commercial time during the Super Bowl. Eternal rival DraftKings has already shared the ad it will be airing. It’s a star-studded affair featuring Kevin Hart and various celebrities borrowing a humor technique perfected in the Austin Powers movies:

But it’s the live spot in which Gronk will put his leg to the test that figures to get the buzz during the first Super Bowl played in a legal sports betting state (and also the first featuring a team from a legal wagering state).

In recent years, sports betting companies have been measured in their purchasing of that expensive Super Bowl ad time. DraftKings got the ball rolling in 2021 with a pair of 15-second spots during the game, promoting a free fourth-quarter prediction challenge available to anyone with DFS access.

DraftKings followed that last year with an ad that perhaps set a bit of groundwork for FanDuel’s Kick of Destiny idea, effectively raffling off $5 million in free bets to lucky customers:

Caesars put its crew of JB Smoove, Halle Berry, and assorted Manning men in a Super Bowl commercial of its own in 2022, while FanDuel aired a pre-game spot. This Sunday, in addition to the announced FanDuel and DraftKings ads, there will be a Molson Coors ad with a DraftKings tie-in.

But it’s the Kick of Destiny that will be the main event — certainly among sports betting advertisements, and possibly even standing out among all the Super Bowl commercials.

Will Gronk make the kick and put some spare change in millions of FanDuel accounts? Or will he miss and turn FD into a Super Bowl punch line?

Whatever happens, it at least has to be better for the Gronk brand than 80 for Brady.

Photo: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images


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