CHARLOTTE — While the Carolina Panthers were unable to follow up last year’s trip to the big game by missing out on the NFL playoffs this season, Panthers nation stuck with their team through thick and thin and recently helped Greg Olsen win the Walter Payton Man of the Year Charity Challenge.
The social media competition featured 32 NFL players in an effort to generate the most hashtag mentions to earn a $25,000 donation from Nationwide. Olsen’s hashtag (#OlsenWPMOYChallenge) generated more than one million mentions.
— Greg Olsen (@gregolsen88) January 10, 2017
Olsen’s charity, Receptions for Research: The Greg Olsen Foundation, was established after his unborn son was diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. The non-profit provides hospitals, doctors, and researchers the necessary resources to better treat those affected with congenital heart disease and cancer.
Moving into the final day of the charity challenge, Olsen trailed San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Torrey Smith by about 100,000 mentions before a big push to get Olsen over the top. Teammates Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly helped the surge along with celebrities like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Like Olsen, Johnson played college football at the University of Miami and alumni of “The U” are notoriously known for supporting their own.
— Luke Kuechly (@LukeKuechly) January 8, 2017
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) January 8, 2017
In addition to the $25,000 prize from Nationwide, Olsen is making his own personal contribution, according to Max Henson of Panthers.com. After Olsen surpassed one million mentions, head coach Ron Rivera pledged to donate $8,888.88, based on Olsen’s jersey number No. 88.
The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award recognizes an NFL player for his excellence on and off the field. The award was established in 1970. Each team nominates one player who has had a significant positive impact on his community. Olsen’s longtime teammate, Thomas Davis, received the 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
The winner will be announced in Houston at NFL Honors, a two-hour prime time awards special to air nationally on February 4, the night before Super Bowl LI, from 8-10 p.m. (ET and PT) on FOX.
The winner will receive a total of $1 million donated in his name, with $500,000 going to a charity of his choice and $500,000 supporting the expansion of Character Playbook across all NFL markets.