KANSAS CITY, Mo — Derrick Nnadi, a defensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs, is making headlines for what he did after his team won the Super Bowl: He sponsored the adoptions of every dog who was at the KC Pet Project before the game — 109 of them.
“Personally, I’m a dog man myself,” he said with a smile. “I’ve always loved dogs. Dogs were always my favorite since I was a little kid.”
During the 2019-2020 football season, Mr. Nnadi and his foundation sponsored a dog’s adoption fee after every Chiefs victory. The Chiefs won 12 season games, and all 12 of his dogs were adopted.
Then Super Bowl LIV happened. He decided to sponsor the $150 adoption fee for all 109 dogs who were waiting to be adopted before Feb. 2, the day of the game. That cost more than $18,000.
On the Kansas City Pet Project website, any dog sponsored by Mr. Nnadi had a note in its bio.
“The fact that people are really trying to make a difference in this world is amazing,” he said soon after he presented the check. “There’s a lot of people on both sides of the spectrum, which is really, really selfish, and ones that are really, really selfless. And those who are selfless should be praised.”
And Mr. Nnadi is being praised. Fans yelled their appreciation in the atrium of the KC Pet Project’s new shelter. Some lined up to take pictures with him. Families who adopted dogs that he sponsored came to talk with him.
Rich Greenhagen, who adopted Selena, was one of them.
“You see a lot of players giving back to the community and giving back their time, and that’s great, but you don’t really see dogs that much,” Mr. Greenhagen said. “You don’t really see the pet side. And people love their dogs.”
The Kansas City Pet Project loves the attention.
“Oh my gosh, we’ve been so busy doing so many wonderful adoptions, thanks to Derrick Nnadi and his Authentic Derrick Nnadi Jersey Foundaton,” said Tori Fugate, chief communications officer.
Mr. Fugate estimated roughly 2 million people had heard about Mr. Nnadi’s adoption sponsorship.
“We also want this to inspire so many other people and communities across the country,” Mr. Fugate added. “Individuals who have the means to — corporations, athletes, whomever — step up, go to your local shelters, and say, ‘Hey, we want to do this, too, in our community.’ ”
That community is much bigger than Kansas City. Rachael Ray offered her dog food, Nourish, for free for a year to anyone who adopted one of Mr. Nnandi’s dogs.
The community has a lot to bark about, and Mr. Nnadi is part of that.
“It feels amazing,” he said. “Being here, I feel, like, indebted to help out the city anyway I can. Whether it’s here or back home, I just want to do my part.”
All 109 of the sponsored dogs have been adopted, but the kennels won’t remain empty for long. Mr. Fugate said KC Pet Project gets as many as 30 new animals in every day.
The shelter won a Super Bowl bet against two animal shelters in San Francisco. Kansas City had more adoptions in the week leading up to the game than they did, 224-155. As a result, the Kansas City Pet Project gets to name some of the adoptable animals in San Francisco. So don’t be surprised to see dogs named Authentic Patrick Mahomes Jersey, Authentic Travis Kelce Jersey and Derrick Nnadi up for adoption on the West Coast.