“Paid patriotism” made headlines yesterday following a government oversight report released by Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake detailing how the Department of Defense paid professional sports teams/leagues a total of $6.8 million to serve up patriotic displays honoring American soldiers. NASCAR was the biggest recipient of the funds, receiving $1,560,000 during fiscal year 2015, with payments also made to 18 NFL teams, 10 MLB teams, eight NBA teams, six NHL teams, and eight soccer teams.
“Over the course of the effort, we discovered the startling fact that DOD cannot accurately account for how many contracts it has awarded or how much has been spent; its official response to our request only accounted for 62 percent of its 122 contracts with the major league teams that we were able to uncover and 70 percent of the more than $10 million it actually spent on these contracts,” the report states. “And, although DOD has indicated the purpose of these contracts is to support recruiting, the Department doesn’t uniformly measure how and whether the activities under contract are actually contributing to recruiting.”
The NFL has since responded that that the league will conduct an audit of all of its contracts with military branches and National Guard units and that any teams found to have been paid by a branch of the military for promotional purposes would have to return the money.