Fans have been sent into a frenzy over a video that purported to show legendary NFL quarterback Drew Brees getting struck by lightning while filming a commercial.
The former New Orleans Saints quarterback tweeted on Monday that he was “excited to be flying to a top-secret location” later in the week where he would be filming a promo for PointsBet, a sports betting app that markets itself in the US as being the “ultimate sportsbook for all things NFL”.
Mr Brees had apparently been filming the commercial for the sports betting company in Venezuela near the Catatumbo River, a region that sees large lightning bolts displayed an average of 297 days a year, according to an analysis published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
The unverified Twitter video that purported to show the apparent lightning strike has been viewed nearly 400,000 times since it was shared early Friday. Mr Brees can be seen in the foreground of the video wearing a sweater with the number zero on it, while the iconic ripple of lightning over the Venezuelan river can be seen in the background.
A moment later, a large flash is seen on camera accompanied by a loud crack of thunder as the camera drops to the ground and a woman is heard shouting.
PointsBet did not confirm whether the legendary football star had been struck in the filming of the commercial, but wrote on Twitter on Friday morning in a statement that the company was “aware of the media coverage regarding PointsBet brand ambassador Drew Brees.”
“We are in communication with Brees’ team and will continue to monitor events throughout the coming hours. At this stage we will not be making any further comment,” said the company, which has been known to run promotions for “lightning bets”.
Mr Brees’ team has not commented on the incident.
ESPN reporter for the New Orleans Saints Katherine Terrell tweeted on Friday morning shortly after the news began making the rounds online that she had been in communication with the former NFL star and said that he was indeed “fine”.
“I just texted Drew Brees. He said he’s good and that he did not get struck by lightning,” tweeted Ms Terrell.
More sources who cover the New Orleans football team began sharing posts later on Friday morning that pushed back against the viral video’s narrative, also claiming that the NFL star was “fine” and had simply been caught up in a viral publicity stunt.
“He’s fine,” tweeted NewOrleans.Football’s Nick Under on Friday morning, calling the video nothing more than a “spoof” in a follow up tweet.
“Drew Brees is fine. Nothing to worry about with that video floating around this morning,” tweeted Nola.com’s Luke Johnson.