Travis, Jason, and Donna Kelce Are Having the Time of Their Lives
You’d be hard pressed to find a pair of siblings riding higher than the Kelce brothers. In February, Jason, 35, and Travis, 33, became the first brothers to ever square off in the Super Bowl. When Travis and the Chiefs came out on top, he got the call to host Saturday Night Live, adding to a growing public image that’s been boosted by New Heights, the podcast he and Jason host together. (They’re also pretty good at the non-promotional parts of the job: both sibs made the NFL’s All-Pro team.)
But as the brothers prepared for the Super Bowl, it was their mother who became one of the big stars of the week. Her half-Eagles, half-Chiefs jersey was a viral hit, as was the video of her on the field amid the postgame confetti, enduring the rollercoaster of emotions that came with congratulating Travis and consoling Jason.
The all-Kelce offseason keeps chugging along, and last week, mom and her two sons were on set shooting a commercial for Campbell’s Chunky Soup. The boys will soon join the long and illustrious list of NFL stars who have teamed up with their mothers for the esteemed soup campaign, joining the likes of Donovan McNabb, Michael Strahan, and Saquon Barkley. (Once again, Travis and Jason are the first brothers to do so.) GQ checked in with the family for a hearty conversation—right before Mother’s Day, no less—about their long and deep connection with Campbell’s and the celebrity soup that they are now ingredients in.
GQ: Is soup a big part of your life? Were you a Campbell’s household?
Travis Kelce: One thousand percent. It was stocked pretty heavily in the pantry growing up.
Donna Kelce: It was an easy and fast meal!
Jason Kelce: We were just reminiscing about how we used to put it in the microwave with this specific plastic thing that would go over top of it to prevent it from splattering all over the microwave. That thing got a lot of use.
That’s a veteran move.
Jason: I feel like we probably could have just put a paper towel over it, or like a plate. I’ve seen so many better, simpler things. But that splatter thing was nice.
Travis: I’m pretty sure it came with the microwave.
Jason: It came with the microwave?
Donna: No, you had to get them separate.
Jason: See! That’s when they used to go door-to-door with these plastic things. “Get your splatter protector!”
Travis: [laughing] They did not go door-to-door!
What is your favorite flavor?
Travis: He’s gonna make fun of me, but I always went straight to chicken noodle soup. Now they got spicy chicken noodle! That’s what I’m game on. [Pointing at Jason] But if you can’t tell, this guy is all about the beef.
Jason: [Pats stomach] Beef and barley!
Donna: Clam chowder was my favorite.
Jason: I’ll eat any of ‘em! If you put spicy chicken noodle or clam chowder in front of me, I’m gonna eat it.
Do you get free soup now?
Jason: That is a great question. We have not asked that. We need to get to the bottom of this.
Travis: We’re gonna see how today goes. We don’t want to ruin that opportunity.
What do you remember about these commercials growing up?
Jason: It’s funny that I play for the Eagles now, because the most iconic one for us growing up was with Donovan McNabb and his mom. I remember all of those commercials. They were so well done. And like we said before, we ate a lot of Chunky soup growing up, so it was a huge part of our childhood.
Travis: It’s full circle for sure. The coolest part for us is being able to bring mom in. Doing something fun with her—everyone remembers McNabb and his mother, and I just thought that was always so cool. Like, he got to a place in his life where he could then showcase his mother, how much he loved her, and the dynamic that they had.
Donna: What’s fun is, it brings a bit of humility. You look at these football players as kind of superhuman. It brings them down to everybody else’s level. You get a smile on your face when you realize, “Oh yeah, that’s somebody’s son.” It’s a level that everyone can relate to.
Soup is the great unifier in this world.
Jason: [laughing] Ratatouille taught us that.
Travis, you and Jason have obviously reached a certain level of fame, both through football and the podcast. But ever since the Super Bowl, your mom has achieved a certain level of fame, too! How has that been? Did you ever think your mom would be a celebrity?
Travis: Oh, my goodness. We knew if she ever got the platform that she would take over the world. I think that was probably the coolest part of the entire Super Bowl. We’ve been able to showcase our parents in a light that is so unique and so fun. They’re so awesome as parents and have been for our entire lives, through the ups and the downs. Not everybody gets to put their parents on the front page. Seeing them in that light was definitely what I’ll remember the most from this past year.
Donna: You never think this is going to happen. They’ve been at this for 11 and 13 years now. [My husband and I] were always in the background and didn’t want to be involved. This is their career. So I felt a little squeamish at first. I didn’t want to take anything away from them, because they’re the stars. But it’s been fun. I enjoy it! I got lucky, because you really never know [how your kids will turn out]. You always have that dream that they’ll be accepting the Nobel Peace Prize…
Jason: Gosh! Set the bar high! The Super Bowl wasn’t enough? We gotta get a Nobel Peace Prize?
Donna, are you getting recognized in public more?
Donna: Yup. If I’m in Kansas City, for sure, they know who I am. It’s not quite the same thing in Philly because it’s such a larger market. But I get a lot of requests for pictures.
Jason, what has it been like to watch your little brother become this big star who’s in the public eye?
Jason: I would like to say that it’s surprising and came out of nowhere, but that would be a lie. Anybody who knows Trav knows that he’s outgoing and he’s got a larger than life personality. Anybody who’s ever been his teammate, classmate, friend knows what a tremendous person he is and what a special character he is. He’s extremely talented in a lot of different things. Watching SNL and seeing how well he did, that was when I was like, “Man, this dude might end up like The Rock! This is insane.” It’s really cool whenever you see a family member have success. For someone like your brother to have that—and be able to live vicariously through that—it means even more.
Travis, how has having an older brother who’s been there, done that helped you navigate life in the NFL?
Travis: I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again: I wouldn’t be in this situation if it wasn’t for this big guy right here, or really, without the family dynamic that we had growing up. I’ve put full trust in his decision making and have followed his footsteps all throughout life. We went to the same college. I didn’t start playing football until he did, and wanted that same dream that he did, which was to go to the NFL. It made my life so much easier to have someone give me that reassurance that I’m on the right track and going in the right direction. It’s been a cheat code in life to have him two years ahead of me. He’s given me so much confidence to be who I am. He mowed everything down to allow me to just run outside and play.
Donna: Not to mention the competition between the two of them! If you have a sibling who’s that athletic, it’s the best competition right there at home.
Oh, I’m sure the Kelce family wiffle ball games went crazy.
Jason: Oh yeah. If you hit it over the house it’s a home run.
Travis: We had a bunch of house rules, for sure.
Jason: What do they say? Iron sharpens iron? Brother betters brother.
Do you ever just sit back, reflect on everything that you’ve done and think, ‘Damn, this is our life!’
Travis: These past five to six months have hit us so frickin’ fast. We’re still kind of living in the moment and haven’t reflected much. But it’s cool to think about where we’re at right now. People have shown that they appreciate us as a family.
Jason: I’m just going with the flow. This past year, obviously, has been unbelievable. But we’re still the same Kelce brothers. People identify with us, I guess, largely because of our love for each other. Whatever happens off of that is all good.
Donna: The comments have been great. Except if they’re coming from Raiders fans or Dallas fans. Besides that, they’ve all been nice.
Well, hey, people in Vegas and Dallas like soup, too.
Travis: Let’s be honest, most of the comments have been, ‘We love Mama Kelce. But Jason and Travis? Screw those guys!’
Jason: That’s true. There’s zero people who hate mom. Like you said, the two great unifiers are soup and Mama Kelc.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Originally Appeared on GQ