The ad featured Brees apparently struck by lightning as part of a promotion with gambling company PointsBet.
Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors International, an organization that seeks to help those affected by lightning strikes, called the stunt “disgusting” and “inappropriate,” TMZ Sports has learned.
The organization has members in at least thirteen countries.
“Drew Brees’ recent lightning commercial is an inappropriate and disgusting method of promoting the game or any TV commercial campaign. This is a fatal injury, and it is disappointing to see the continued ridicule of lightning and electrical injury survivors cast in a spotlight comedy in which she is presented for commercial and profit-making purposes,” a spokesperson said in a statement obtained by TMZ Sports.
As concerns for the safety of the former New Orleans Saints player grew, PointsBet issued a statement acknowledging that it was aware of the situation.
“We are aware of the media coverage of PointsBet Brand Ambassador Drew Brees,” PointsBet tweeted on Friday morning.
A short time later, PointsBet followed up on the statement to admit that the lightning bolt seen in the promo session was fake. The betting company said it was having “a bit of fun” with Brees and confirmed the 43-year-old was “alive and well”.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees passes against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of a game on January 3, 2021 in Charlotte, NC (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors International believed that the promotion was far from humorous.
“Mocking these people and making this injury trivial is unacceptable, and what example do you set for our children to learn?”
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) throws the ball during training camp on August 29, 2020 in New Orleans. (David Grunfeld/The Advocate via AP, Pool)
The organization also noted that the impact the announcement could have on lightning survivors should have been taken into account.
“As a survivor this is very disturbing, the thoughtlessness on the part of the participants trying to profit from the tragedy is remarkable,” the organization said. “Much progress has been made through hard work and education over the last 20 years in reducing lightning/electricity deaths and the risk of injury through education and informed awareness of the hazards.”
On Friday, Brees sarcastically shared a post on Twitter that read: “Lightning must have thought I was wearing a Falcons jersey that’s why he tried to catch me… I’m good… Who the hell!”
However, Brees has not publicly responded to any backlash.
Chantz Martin is a sportswriter for Fox News Digital.