NFL Stars Chris Godwin, Aaron Rodgers and Johnny Hekker Advocate to End Abuse and Human Trafficking during It's a Penalty's Campaign Ahead of LA Super Bowl LVI 2022

·7 min read

The It's a Penalty Campaign, together with their founding partner A21, sees big names in the hotel, sport and tourism industry including the NFL, The LA Super Bowl Host Committee, IHG Hotels & Resorts, LAX Airport, American and Southwest Airlines, Uber and Airbnb come together to Educate and Equip Football Fans and Public in Los Angeles and Around the World

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 24, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, It's a Penalty launched its 12th global campaign ahead of Super Bowl LVI, focused on harnessing the power of sport to prevent abuse, exploitation and human trafficking. It's a Penalty's 2022 campaign is dedicated to educating sports fans and the general public on what classifies as human trafficking and the subsequent penalties tied to those offenses. Knowing that large events, such as the Super Bowl, can lead to increased instances of human trafficking due to an influx of visitors, the campaign aims to inform people not only how to identify exploitation and human trafficking, but also how to take action and report these breaches of freedom.

NFL Star Johnny Hekker advocates to end abuse and human trafficking during It’s a Penalty’s campaign ahead of LA Super Bowl LVI 2022.
NFL Star Johnny Hekker advocates to end abuse and human trafficking during It’s a Penalty’s campaign ahead of LA Super Bowl LVI 2022.


  • 1/3 of detected trafficking victims are children (Source: UNODC, 2021)

  • The state of California has had the most human trafficking cases reported in the U.S. (Source: National Human Trafficking Hotline)

  • More than 100,000 children are sold for sex in the U.S. each year (Source: ECPAT-USA)

  • 83% of sex trafficking victims in the U.S. are U.S. citizens (Source: U.S. Department of Justice)

  • 40.3 million people are trafficked and exploited around the world (Source: GSI, 2018)

"The It's a Penalty campaign, along with our partners, will help to prevent human trafficking and exploitation in the run up to and during Super Bowl LV1, contributing toward a positive legacy in the host city of Los Angeles and beyond," said Sarah de Carvalho, CEO, It's a Penalty. "We know from previous campaigns just how impactful they can be. Last year, our largest campaign ran during the Super Bowl in Tampa, which reported that 84% of people felt improved awareness of the issues of human trafficking and exploitation, and more equipped to make a report after being exposed to the It's a Penalty campaign."

In addition to Johnny Hekker from the Los Angeles Rams, the 2022 campaign is supported by renowned American football players Chris Godwin from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers, and Andy Dalton and Nick Foles from the Chicago Bears. These high-profile athletes lent their voice to help raise awareness via a 30-second video shown in-flight by American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, with a potential to reach up to 10 million national and international passengers. If viewers suspect they've encountered a case of human trafficking, or if they see a combination of the signs of exploitation, the campaign video encourages them to call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 to make a report or send an anonymous tip by texting 'BE FREE' to 233733.


  • LAX airport will hold a press conference with key stakeholders in the travel industry announcing the It's a Penalty campaign on January 25th and will display 1,000 mirror clings in 460 airport restrooms as well as digital signage throughout the airport terminals.

  • The campaign launch will be hosted by It's a Penalty partner IHG Hotels & Resorts with hotel industry experts and other leading voices at the Hotel Indigo - Los Angeles Downtown.

  • 2,500 rearview tags with the National Human Trafficking Hotline will be passed out to area Uber Drivers.

  • Airbnb hosts across LA will receive educational materials on how to spot the signs of human trafficking.

  • As part of its ongoing commitment to identify and combat human trafficking, Hilton is partnering with It's a Penalty to conduct mandatory anti-trafficking training programs across Hilton properties in the Los Angeles area.

  • It's a Penalty will have a booth at the Super Bowl Experience in collaboration with The Alliance Against Human Trafficking and Exploitation that features the campaign film and a photo-taking opportunity.

  • On January 20th, volunteers from ZOE International came together to assemble and distribute awareness kits to hotels and motels. Each piece in the kit listed the national and local reporting hotlines. Kits consisted of:


  • Founding partner, A21, along with major partners including the NFL and Los Angeles Host of Super Bowl LVI, IHG Hotels & Resorts, Hilton, G6 Hospitality, parent company of the Motel 6 and Studio 6 brands, LAX Airport, Southwest and American Airlines, Uber and Airbnb

  • Additional partners are Rescue Freedom International, ZOE International, The Alliance, US Institute Against Human Trafficking, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), No Room for Trafficking an AHLA Foundation program, California Hotel & Lodging Association (CHLA), Hotel Association of Los Angeles.

"Whether it's ahead of the Super Bowl or in everyday life, it takes all of us working together to combat human trafficking," said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. "I'm proud to stand with the It's a Penalty campaign and all our partners across California against exploitation and trafficking. Businesses and members of the public can all be part of the solution. One way to help is by posting our office's informational notices in your place of business to share resources aimed at supporting survivors and preventing trafficking. At the California Department of Justice, we're committed to standing up for survivors, disrupting and dismantling human trafficking rings, and securing justice. With your help, we can make it happen. Making a difference is a team sport."

"IHG condemns human trafficking in all forms," said Elie Maalouf, CEO, Americas, IHG Hotels & Resorts. "We're honored to support It's a Penalty once again, and this year, serve as a Main Partner of this critical awareness campaign. Prevention starts on the front lines, and IHG is dedicated to increasing hotel colleague awareness of the signs of human trafficking and taking the actions necessary to prevent it. Working together, we can effectively fight trafficking in the hospitality industry and make a real difference in our communities around the world."

"Airports play a critical role in helping to identify, report and stop human trafficking," said Valeria Velasco, Vice President, Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners. "As Los Angeles prepares to welcome Super Bowl LVI and other global events, we are committed to educating our officers, employees and guests about how they can play a role in ending this vile crime. We thank our partners in law enforcement, the NFL and It's a Penalty for putting a spotlight on this important issue and providing all those work at or go through our airports the tools to identify and combat human trafficking."

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It's a Penalty focuses on four key strategic areas to end human trafficking, exploitation and abuse. They run global awareness campaigns during major sporting events highlighting the telltale signs to look out for, and hotline numbers to make a report. Working in collaboration with the sports, travel & tourism industry, NGO's and law enforcers; the campaigns are contextualized in the host cities and countries. It's a Penalty has so far run 12 Campaigns during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Super Bowl and the Commonwealth Games, reaching over 2.5 billion people. Along side the Campaigns It's a Penalty has three other programmes including CommonProject, which advocates for legal reform to improve protection from sexual exploitation and abuse for children throughout the Commonwealth countries, Student Ambassador Network, which educates and raises up university students in UK to prevent human trafficking and exploitation and co-run Safe to Compete, a programme that trains sports coaches and parents of children in Little Leagues in the USA to prevent abuse and exploitation.

A21 is a global nonprofit organization determined to eradicate human trafficking through awareness, intervention, and aftercare. Currently operating in 19 locations across 14 countries, A21 aims to combat modern-day slavery through a multi-dimensional operational strategy: Reach, Rescue, and Restore. Through partnerships and the efforts of supporters all over the globe, A21 truly believes that a multitude of victims can be identified and assisted, and perpetrators can be brought to justice.

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