Don’t Expect the 2021 Super Bowl MVP to Win a Free Car

There’s a lot on the line during Super Bowl LV – legacy, bonuses, pride, and a place in history.  However, a brand-new car won’t be on the line in 2021.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs players will ultimately be focused on the grand prize – the Lombardi Trophy. However, the Most Valuable Player announcement might feel somewhat bittersweet for the honoree, as he may not receive a free car like other winners of the past.

Some manufacturers are going the extra mile this year – even going as far as putting free cars for fans on the line. However, many companies are scaling back their advertising efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Unfortunately for the future Super Bowl MVP, a new car doesn’t seem to be in the cards, either.

The history of the Super Bowl MVP car

Deion Branch standing next to his Super Bowl MVP car, a red Cadillac XLR
Former New England Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch next to the Cadillac XLR he received for being named MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX | Photo by Jason Merritt/FilmMagic via Getty Images

Most star NFL players can afford just about any car they desire. However, even wealthy athletes can appreciate free swag.

Former Super Bowl MVPs may have an emotional attachment to their prize car, as it represents one of the greatest moments of their career.

This tradition goes back to the beginnings of the Super Bowl. Former Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr was awarded a pair of Chevy Corvettes after earning the MVP honor in the first two Super Bowls.

Subsequent players also came away with a free car. However, not all of them had positive memories. Super Bowl XXXIII MVP John Elway famously had his freebie SUV stolen a few years after his Denver Broncos were crowned NFL champions.

General Motors models have traditionally been the NFL’s vehicles of choice. According to Top Speed, most Super Bowl MVPs drove home with a new Chevrolet or Cadillac.

However, that’s no longer the case. Former New England Patriots (and current Buccaneers) quarterback Tom Brady was the last player to win a GM vehicle. But the legendary quarterback gave the awarded 2015 Chevy Colorado Z71 to rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler, who made the game-winning interception.

The Super Bowl MVP car is no longer a tradition

A Tampa hotel with Super Bowl banners featuring the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs
A hotel in Tampa, Fla. featuring Super Bowl banners | Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

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Some fans may be taken aback when they find out that the Super Bowl MVP isn’t getting a free vehicle after the game. However, this prize isn’t the common practice it once was.

Last year, Tire Meets Road reported that Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes didn’t receive a free car after being named MVP. In fact, Hyundai hasn’t given out a vehicle to any MVP since the manufacturer became the official Super Bowl sponsor in 2015.

Hyundai, along with several other automakers, is taking an even further step back in 2021.

According to the New York Times, Hyundai and Coca-Cola won’t be running Super Bowl commercials this year. Kia also announced that it would forgo advertising during Super Bowl LV, using its budget to expand its charity efforts instead.

Hyundai’s recent history and 2021 advertising strategy shows that it isn’t all-in on the big game this year. So while it’s not entirely confirmed that the Super Bowl LV MVP won’t get a free car, we shouldn’t expect it to happen.

The road ahead is wide open for future Super Bowl automotive sponsors

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Every kid dreams of one day winning the Super Bowl and being named the game’s MVP. So, not getting a free car afterward won’t tarnish the moment for the eventual champs.

However, the absence of a prize vehicle offers an interesting opportunity for other manufacturers. 

The COVID-19 pandemic caused uncertainty for the automotive industry. But as the world shifts back to normalcy, Hyundai or another brand could look to bring back the tradition of the Super Bowl MVP car.

This ceremonious vehicle is put in the spotlight after one of the most-watched television experiences. And the benefit of the attention the prize car receives dramatically outweighs the cost of giving away a free car.