It was up to the commercials to save the Super Bowl XLVIII broadcast thanks to the whoopin' the Seattle Seahawks laid on the Denver Broncos. Sadly, many of the commercials in this year's Super Bowl class were anything but super. One of those commercials with a sports tie-in caught my eye for a peculiar reason.
Subway aired a new commercial advertising their new Fritos Chicken Enchilada melt, continuing the bizarre trend of fast food chains depending on snack foods to dazzle consumers. If Fritos subs or Doritos tacos are the next great innovation in American cuisine we're in more trouble than I thought.
The Subway commercial featured a number of prominent, well-known sports figures – Michael Phelps, Nastia Liukin, Apolo Ohno, and Jay Glazer.
And then there was Mike Lee.
Mike Lee. He was the boxer fella that had "Mike Lee" emblazoned on his shorts just so you would know it was Mike Lee.
Who is this boxer .00001% of the population watching the Super Bowl would recognize if he didn't have his name on his person and why was he grouped in with people actually famous for their athletic accomplishments?
Well, Mike Lee is in fact a real boxer. In fact, he has a 10-0 professional record. But here's the rub. He hasn't had a fight since August 2012, which is pretty strange for someone featured in a national advertising campaign in January 2014. When I tweeted about Lee last night at Awful Announcing, SI boxing writer Chris Mannix replied how strange it was to see him promoted alongside Olympic champions.
@awfulannouncing Bizarre that he is part of that campaign. Fringe prospect who hasn't fought in a year and a half.
— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) February 3, 2014
Good luck finding any information whatsoever on whether or not Mike Lee actually plans to box again. You'd have better luck finding out what happened to Denver's missing offense from last night. (rimshot) According to his Wikipedia page (and I know you're not supposed to cite Wikipedia, but it's literally the only source out there on this guy), Lee was released from Top Rank Promotions after pulling out of a fight three separate times. His Twitter page is little more than pictures of him training for a fight that may or may not be on the horizon and product placement for Subway.
So who is Mike Lee? He seems to be little more than a marketing creation filling the chasm that is American boxing and its thirst for a Great White Hope. (The movie version starring Peter Berg is far superior to anything actually produced by the sport since.) Believe it or not, this was the second consecutive year Lee was featured in a Subway Super Bowl ad and the second straight year everyone across America collectively asked "Who is Mike Lee?!?" Only this year, the questions should be more pronounced since he has disappeared from the fight game altogether.
Lee was profiled by Notre Dame magazine, alluding to the glowing prose surrounding Lee that should be reserved for the likes of Ali, Bill Gates, and Pope Francis.
The media take an almost sociological view of him, rarely failing to make note of his 3.8 GPA, finance degree, and interest in The Wall Street Journal and CNBC. There are headlines like USA Today’s “Wall Street can wait: Mike Lee ready to make his mark in the ring” and “Degree from Notre Dame nice, but Lee wants light heavyweight title”; meanwhile, The New York Times opines, “who would have thought the Irish might be able to boast of a world boxing champion before they claim another national title in their signature sport?”
One slight problem with that is to be a world boxing champion, you actually have to fight somebody!
Why was Mike Lee in a Subway Super Bowl commercial in 2014? It's a great question for the sandwich giants as there are literally hundreds of thousands of other athletes that have better credentials at this point in time. Maybe Mike Lee is just the latest example of boxing floundering for a Great White Hope. Maybe he's nothing more than a marketing creation. Maybe he's just a guy Subway found to fill their pre-made "Mike Lee" boxing shorts.