Travis Kelce Pfizer

Andrea Austria / Media Matters

Research/Study Research/Study

Right-wing media use Travis Kelce’s relationship with Taylor Swift to further their crusades against COVID vaccines and Bud Light

As frenzied rumors swirl about pop star Taylor Swift's potential relationship with Travis Kelce, tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, right-wing media figures are scrambling to use Kelce’s appearances in advertising campaigns for Pfizer and Bud Light to continue their anti-vax and anti-LGBTQ crusades.

  • Travis Kelce’s corporate sponsorships are being scrutinized by right-wing media figures

    • Kelce is now “facing backlash from right-wing fans” after he recently appeared in commercials for both Pfizer and for Bud Light beer. The Pfizer ad, which was shared on Kelce’s Instagram account on September 22, encouraged viewers to go out and get both their flu shot and to update their COVID-19 booster shot. Kelce also appeared in an ad for Bud Light in July, which right-wing social media users resurfaced after the Pfizer ad was released. [Forbes, 9/25/23, Sports Business Journal, 7/5/23]
    • Both Pfizer and Bud Light have been under intense scrutiny from right-wing figures for their engagement with supposedly liberal causes. Pfizer has been a significant target for right-wing media and anti-vaxxers over the company’s role in developing the COVID-19 vaccine, and Bud Light has been the target of a boycott from right-wing media figures over its Pride Month partnership with a trans influencer.  [Media Matters, 11/10/21, 4/6/23
    • While Kelce has been a star player with the Kansas City Chiefs for several years, his recently rumored relationship with Taylor Swift has generated significant attention for his activities both on and off the field. Along with his advertisements for Bud Light and Pfizer, a 2017 picture of Kelce kneeling for the national anthem resurfaced as right-wing figures continue to scrutinize him. [ESPN, 9/25/23, SB Nation, 9/24/17]
  • Right-wing media figures attacked Kelce for his participation in Pfizer and Bud Light ads

    • OutKick founder Clay Travis berated Kelce for agreeing to do the ads, stating that he should “fire all his marketing agents.” The right-wing sports radio host went on to remark that Kelce should “just go ahead and cut his dick off, become a chick, and endorse Joe Biden.” [Twitter/X, 9/24/23]
    • Right-wing social media influencers the Hodgetwins claimed “Travis Kelce sold his soul to Pfizer to push the clot shots.” [Twitter/X, 9/23/23]
    • Former Project Veritas affiliate Eric Spracklen wrote, “Well. I’m not a Travis Kelce fan anymore. Pfizer shill.” [Twitter/X, 9/22/23]
    • Fox News contributor Leo Terrell accused Kelce of “lying to the American people'' about the COVID vaccine’s safety. Terrell wrote, “I challenge Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, to show me the medical evidence why he, at the age of 33 physically fit needs a Pfizer’sCovid vaccine shot. Travis show me the medical evidence. Stop lying to the American people.” [Twitter/X, 9/24/23]
    • In response to a claim about the “Taylor Swift effect” helping Kelce’s jersey sales and social media followers skyrocket, BlazeTV host Jason Whitlock posted, “No. That's the benefits of selling out to Big Pharma and Bud Light.” In another post, Whitlock questioned “what professional athlete in the prime of his life and health would be out promoting the vaccine given all the data about the injuries and whatnot” and criticized Kelce’s relationship with “Taylor Swift, hardcore leftist [who] promotes abortion.”  [Twitter/X, 9/26/23, 9/26/23]
    • Matthew Peterson, editor in chief for TheBlaze, chided that Kelce “went from shilling Bud Light to Pfizer vax boy in the space of a few weeks.” Peterson also posted that “I’m just here to give you all permission” alongside a gif of Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars with the line “let the hate flow through you.” [Twitter/X, 9/24/23]
    • Far-right influencer and self-described “Alpha Male” Nick Adams wrote that Kelce had kneeled for the anthem and done ads for Pfizer and Bud Light before adding: “Taylor Swift hates America. Taylor Swift hates President Trump. Taylor Swift loves communism. Maybe Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift would be good together.” [Twitter/X, 9/25/23]
    • Anti-vaxxer and QAnon influencer John Sabal, known online as “QAnon John,” called Kelce a “poster boy shill for Pfizer” and said: “He wants to make sure you get your DOUBLE kill shot. … Flu & COVID mRNA combo… Will turn you Transhuman, and or put you six feet under TWICE as fast!” [Telegram, 9/23/23]
    • Anti-vax influencer account DiedSuddenly shared Kelce’s Pfizer ad with the caption “Taylor Swifts new boyfriend, TE Travis Kelce, is the new poster boy for the Covid Booster. He has turned his comments off on this video. Hey Travis Kelce, we hope the money is worth it.” [Twitter/X, 9/22/23
    • Far-right commentator and “Pizzagate” conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec attacked Kelce for kneeling during the national anthem in 2017. Posobiec captioned his repost, “Travis Kence has always been a beta.” [Twitter/X, 9/25/23]
    • Discussing Kelce’s ad for Pfizer on The Megyn Kelly Show, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk questioned “what will break his heart first: His new relationship with Taylor Swift or the COVID shot? … They’re both in the business of breaking hearts.” Kirk added, “I find it rather repulsive, to be perfectly honest, that a supposedly alpha male person like Travis Kelce is pushing a vaccine toward a demographic that doesn’t need it.” [Mediaite 9/25/23]