COLUMBUS, Ohio – Nationwide announced today that Carolina Panthers tight end and Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award nominee Greg Olsen has won the second annual Charity Challenge. Nationwide will donate $25,000 to Olsen's foundation, Receptions for Research.
Nationwide, the presenting sponsor of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, launched the Charity Challenge on Dec. 12, 2016, to further recognize and promote the 32 nominees for this year's award. The month-long social media contest gave NFL fans the opportunity to show support for their favorite nominee and offered players a chance to secure a $25,000 donation to their charity of choice, courtesy of Nationwide.
Fans were invited to vote for their favorite nominee by using that player's unique hashtag on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The player whose unique hashtag was used the most by Jan. 8, 2017, receives the $25,000 donation.
Thanks to tweets of support from athletes and celebrities, Olsen received in the last weekend of the contest more than 860,000 uses of his unique hashtag, #OlsenWPMOYChallenge, to rally for the win. In all, Olsen's hashtag was used nearly 1.2 million times on social media.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Torrey Smith finished second with more than 600,000 uses of his hashtag, while Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats finished third with nearly 200,000 hashtag uses. Fans used the 32 different team nominees' hashtags more than 2.4 million times.
"We created the Charity Challenge to provide another national platform for the nominees to share their foundations' stories. This year's Charity Challenge certainly accomplished that goal," said Terrance Williams, chief marketing officer at Nationwide. "We congratulate Greg on winning this year's challenge, and thank all of the nominees and their fans for participating."
"The support I received from Panther Nation and fans across the nation, during this Charity Challenge is astounding," Olsen said. "I'm beyond appreciative to the all fans who not only voted, but took the extra step to donate to Receptions for Research. It means a lot to me, my family and the organizations we support. And the fact that we reached over one million votes, is proof that Panther fans know what it means to KEEP POUNDING.
"Additionally, I'd like to thank Nationwide for the $25,000 donation to Receptions for Research. The funds will be used to continue our mission of providing hospitals, doctors, scholars, families and patients resources to enhance the lives of those affected by congenital heart disease and various forms of cancer."
Receptions for Research isn't the only charity that will receive a donation as part of this year's Charity Challenge. As a show of appreciation to Torrey Smith and his fans for their participation, Nationwide is donating $10,000 to The Torrey Smith Family Fund. Nationwide will also donate an additional $1,000 to the foundations of the players who posted via their own social channels on the first day of the contest.
The 2016 NFL season marks the third year of Nationwide's sponsorship of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which recognizes a player for his excellence on and off the field. During the first two seasons, Nationwide contributed more than $500,000 to the charitable foundations represented by the various nominees.
The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award will be announced during NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime special airing nationally on February 4, the night before Super Bowl LI, from 8-10 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.
For more information on the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide, visit www.nfl.com/manoftheyear.
View photos of tight end Greg Olsen as he and his family deliver beanies specially designed for patients at Levine Children's Hospital.