John Madden’s first Miller Lite ad sparked success as a commercial launcher

He was the Super Bowl-winning NFL coach who “retired” at the age of 42 – then pursued a career in broadcasting where he taught America that one knee equals two. feet.

But John Madden, who died on Tuesday at the age of 85, was also a successful business pitchman.

Although he had long been associated with the Oakland Raiders and the NFL, as well as CBS and Fox – the two networks he called his home – Madden also became closely associated with brands such as Miller Lite, Ace Hardware. and Tinactin, among others. .


Who could forget the image that started it all: The tall, beefy Madden literally burst across the TV screen during one of Miller Lite’s “Tastes Great / Less Filling” debates.

Before Madden’s first Miller Lite commercial in 1981, he couldn’t believe he could get any more famous than he already was, having led the Raiders to a Super Bowl victory in January 1977.

“How can more people know me?” An incredulous Madden remembers asking advertisers before the first commercial airing, he recalls in a 2016 interview with BroBible.

“Just believe me, they will,” Madden replied.

“And they did! Madden continued. “I went from John Madden, the coach, to John Madden, the Miller Lite guy who breaks the wall.”

The spot has led to many more for Miller Lite – and other brands have come calling.

Perhaps Madden’s greatest commercial success has come to have its name on EA Sports’ “Madden NFL” video games (originally called “John Madden Football”), which have sold hundreds of people. million copies.


The games remain extremely popular more than two decades later. After only its first month of release, the latest title in the series, “Madden NFL 22,” became the No. 4 best-selling game of 2021, according to the NPD Group ranking, MediaPlay News reported in September.

Madden’s various income streams added to a fortune that celebrity net worth estimated at around $ 200 million.

Not bad for a guy who stopped training at 42.

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