By Barry Janoff
April 25, 2012: Calvin Johnson Jr., wide receiver for the NFL's Detroit Lions, has been voted to appear on the cover of EA Sports' Madden NFL 13 videogame cover. According to EA Sports, nearly 20 million ballots were cast during the seven week campaign (which ran March 7-April 25).
Johnson, who recently signed an eight-year deal with the Lions valued at $132 million, defeated Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton by a margin of 52% to 48%.
“The people voted, man, the people voted," Johnson said in accepting the honor. "They got what they wanted. And I am very grateful for that. This means a lot. Oh, man, this is great. Growing up, watching [John] Madden all the time, playing Madden all the time."
This year’s voting topped last year’s totals by 54% (19.6 million vs. 12.7 million), according to EA Sports. The campaign was conducted with ESPN and included marketing via TV, radio, online, mobile, social media, ESPN, ESPN's SportsNation and ESPN Deportes.
Voting was presented by the 2012 Toyota Camry.
ESPN said that the nearly 20 million votes set a new engagement record for an ESPN poll.
To celebrate and commemorate Johnson’s cover win on Madden NFL 13, EA Sports conducted a photo shoot in New York’s Times Square to "capture the iconic image that will appear on the cover of this year’s game," which is scheduled to hit shelves Aug. 28.
Johnson will become the first member of the Detroit Lions to appear on the cover since Barry Sanders, whose photo ran along with John Madden on Madden NFL 2000.
"Everybody's going to want a game, that's the thing. So I need EA to supply me. I need dozens of games.” — Calvin 'Megatron' Johnson Jr.
According to Anthony Stevenson, director of marketing for Madden NFL 13, “This year’s cover voting campaign had more rounds, more players and more votes than ever before, generating great conversations and debates amongst the fans and NFL players across multiple ESPN platforms and throughout social media. The amount of support that Johnson generated nationally and in his home market of Detroit was staggering.”
Johnson must now deal with the "Madden curse," which has seen several players either injured or endure poor seasons the year they were selected to appear on the videogame's cover, including Madden NFL 12 cover athlete Peyton Hillis.
Johnson himself had no thoughts of a curse. “Shocked. Shocked. Just to see yourself on this Madden, seeing all the guys that have been on this through the years before? C'mon, man. Everybody's going to want a game, that's the thing. So I need EA to supply me. I need dozens of games.”