Jesus Super Bowl Ad Sparks Outrage at Massive Price Tag

A multimillion-dollar Super Bowl ad campaign telling viewers that Jesus Christ "gets" them is the latest controversy surrounding the NFL's biggest event of the year.

On Sunday, two new ads from the "He Gets Us" campaign will air during the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs. While the religious nature of the commercials was already likely to provoke audiences, it's the $20 million price tag that has sparked backlash online.

Ahead of the Super Bowl weekend, social media users questioned whether the wealthy Christian backers behind the ad campaign were hypocrites for spending millions on marketing Christianity, rather than using the funds for another religious initiative, like philanthropy, that is typically promoted as the core of faith.

"I dunno - I'd think $20MM could accomplish a lot more of the things Jesus would actually want people to do than watch a Super Bowl commercial," one person tweeted, adding that $20 million would be the equivalent of "a lot of food and shelter for the poor and underprivileged" or significant aid for those affected by war and natural disaster.

Super Bowl Jesus Christianity
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (L) and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (R) will face off during Super Bowl LVII on February 12, 2023. A Super Bowl ad from a Christian company is sparking controversy online after viewers found out it cost $20 million. Dylan Buell/Getty Images

"There are a lot more Jesus-y things that could be done with that money," they also wrote.

Another user said the massive ad campaign was "all the proof" they needed to justify not donating to religious organizations in the future: "If religions have millions for Super Bowl commercials; they clearly don't need the meager donations that I can afford!" they tweeted.

Those behind the ad are hoping to reach more than 100 million viewers at a time when Christianity is on the decline in the United States. While Christians remain the largest religious majority in the country, with 63 percent of adults identifying as such, about 3 in 10 Americans see themselves as religiously affiliated, according to the Pew Research Center.

Roughly 15 years ago, 78 percent of adults defined themselves as Christians and only 16 percent said they were religiously affiliated—nearly half of what that number is today.

While many of the donors backing the campaign have remained anonymous, Christianity Today reported that one of the billionaire co-founders of retail company Hobby Lobby, David Green, was among those who publicly acknowledged funding the campaign.

"Incredible to me that a group of people (including the Hobby Lobby CEO) spent 20 million dollars on a couple ads for the Super Bowl to literally promote Jesus," a Twitter user wrote. "I feel like Jesus would have spent that 20 million in another way..."

"$20 million from the likes of the CEO of Hobby Lobby to tell Superbowl viewers 'Jesus gets us,'" another said. "Does Jesus 'get' that kind of wealth? And this use of it? Or does he weep?"

Bill McKendry, the founder and chief creative officer of the Michigan-based creative agency Haven that created the ads, told news outlet MLive that the agency went to "great lengths" to avoid politicizing the ad.

"There's no agenda here other than we just want people to see what Jesus modeled, and we believe we would be a better society if we all learn from that," McKendry said.