Salvation Army benefits from Zeke’s kettle-leap

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott’s impromptu jump into a giant Salvation Army kettle last weekend whipped up a lot of controversy and— as it turns out— money.

According to Apex Marketing Group’s Eric Smallwood, the publicity surrounding the post-touchdown incident was worth at least $4 million in equivalent advertising.

In just over 12 hours after Elliott’s leap, the Salvation Army took in $182,000 in online donations; a 61 percent increase over a similar time period from Sunday night into Monday last week, said Lt. Col. Ron Busroe.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was entertained by Elliott’s Sunday night antics. “Let’s give Zeke credit for that. It is certainly fun,” he told reporters. “We have those kettles there because we do want the visibility of reminding everybody, certainly at this time of year, how doing the most good is putting a dollar in that red kettle. To have gotten that attention in front of probably 20 million or so people [Sunday] night for the Salvation Army was just wonderful.”

The boost in donations comes as a welcome surprise for the Salvation Army. Busroe said donations were down 16 percent from last year this time. “We needed this boost,” he told ESPN.

Refs flagged Elliott for excessive celebration on Sunday, which usually carries a fine of $12,154, but a spokesman for the NFL tweeted Monday that Elliott would not be fined. Elliott said he was planning to match the fine with a donation to the Salvation Army. He tweeted Monday he would still be giving a donation.