DraftKings, a prominent sports gambling company, faced severe backlash and criticism after promoting a bet parlay offer that coincided with the 22nd anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks in the United States. The ill-advised offer aimed to pay out if three New York teams emerged victorious on this solemn day, tarnishing the significance of the tragic event. The World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, located in lower Manhattan, were the epicenter of the devastating attacks, resulting in the loss of nearly 3,000 lives. Such a callous and insensitive move by DraftKings rightfully outraged the public.
Dubbed as the “Never Forget” parlay, a term widely associated with remembering the September 11th attacks, DraftKings managed to strike a nerve with this ill-conceived promotion. The company hastily removed the offer after experiencing a torrent of criticism on social media, illustrating the public’s outrage over the insensitivity surrounding the use of a national tragedy to promote their business interests.
The public response on social media platforms was scathing, with numerous users expressing their disdain and disappointment towards DraftKings. Many deemed the company as “absolute clowns” and labeled their actions as “shameful.” The anger and frustration were palpable as users accused DraftKings of disregarding the significance of September 11th and disrespecting those who personally experienced the tragic events. Bret Eagleson, who lost his father in the World Trade Center attacks and runs a group called 9/11 Justice, emphasized the need for accountability, justice, and closure rather than self-interest and shameless promotion.
This incident serves as a stark reminder of the growing prevalence of commercial entities exploiting sensitive historical events for their own gain. The emergence of legal sports betting markets across more than 30 states and the District of Columbia since the groundbreaking 2018 U.S. Supreme Court case has opened the door for lucrative opportunities. According to Statista Market Insights, the sports betting market is projected to surpass $7.6 billion in 2023. However, as evident from DraftKings’ misguided parlay offer, companies need to exercise greater restraint and sensitivity when planning their promotions to avoid further harm and backlash.
Regrettably, this is not the first time a corporation has faced backlash for their inappropriate use of imagery and slogans associated with the September 11th attacks. Ten years ago, AT&T faced a similar controversy when they shared an image of the Tributes in Light, accompanied by the caption “Never Forget.” AT&T promptly apologized for their misjudgment, recognizing the offense caused by their post. Yet, the fact that such mishaps continue to occur highlights the need for heightened awareness and sensitivity surrounding the remembrance of September 11th.
DraftKings’ misguided promotion demonstrates the dire importance of moral responsibility and ethical sensibilities for businesses operating within a society. Exploiting historical events of national significance for personal gain is an abhorrent practice that exemplifies a lack of integrity. As consumers, it is crucial to hold companies accountable for their actions and demand better standards. It is only through continuous scrutiny and personal reflection that corporations can learn from their mistakes and strive to uphold the respect and solemnity required when remembering historic tragedies like September 11th.