Three-time NFL defensive player of the year, J.J. Watt is using his successful career as an athlete to make a positive impact on the world. The Arizona Cardinals defensive end (who spent 10 years with the Houston Texans) is recognized for his accomplishments both on and off the field.
The Notable Ways J.J. Watt Has Given Back
From raising millions of dollars in support of Hurricane Harvey victims to funding athletic programs, Watt frequently tops the list of athletes giving back in a major way. In 2017, the football star won the Walter Peyton Man of the Year Award for his charitable work. Here are just five notable examples of Watt’s well-known philanthropy.
1. Hurricane Harvey Relief
With close ties to his former hometown in Houston, Texas, Watt used his platform to raise millions of dollars in an online fundraiser to aid those affected by Hurricane Harvey. The Category 4 hurricane caused catastrophic flooding, killed more than 100 people and resulted in $125 billion worth of damage, according to worldvision.org . The online campaign started by Watt on Aug. 27, 2017, ended up raising more than $37 million.
“While I understand the total recovery from Hurricane Harvey could require upwards of $200 billion, and this $37 million will not be able to help every single person as I so badly wish it could, I have made it my mission to ensure this money makes as large of an impact as possible,” Watt said in a statement on the Justin J Watt Foundation website. The money was allocated to the clean-up, repair and rebuilding of over 600 homes, among other initiatives outlined on the website.
2. Helping Those in Need
ESPN reporter Adam Schefter shared the news on Twitter, reporting that their donation would help the organization supply “over one million meals” to the people who needed it most.
3. Funding After-School Athletic Programs
The Justin J Watt Foundation works with middle schools in Texas, Wisconsin and other states to support underfunded after-school athletics programs. The organization believes these extracurricular activities are essential in the well-being of students. So far, the foundation has donated more than $6.6 million in support of this mission. Here’s a list of all the schools where the foundation made a difference.
“I hope to make you proud of me on the field as well as off the field by helping the kids in the community have the same opportunities that were afforded to me,” said J.J. Watt in a statement on his website. “That is only possible with the support of people like you and for that I’d like to say thank you! I would not have received such success if it were not for the support of athletics – this is the intent of my organization.”
4. Supporting His Fans
In July 2022, Texas resident Jennifer Simpson took to Twitter to sell her Houston Texans J.J. Watt jersey, along with a pair of shoes from Watt’s Reebok line. Simpson was selling the fan gear in hopes of raising money for her grandfather’s funeral.
Within 20 minutes of the post, Watt responded telling Simpson to keep her gear and saying he would cover the cost of the funeral.
“I posted last night trying to sell valuable items to raise money,” Simpson wrote in a tweet. “I woke up overwhelmed by the love and support of people who don’t even know my grandpa’s story. My family is so grateful for you all.”
5. Making Wishes Come True
Watt has a soft spot for his youngest fans and is a supporter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In 2016, he made a nine-year-old cancer survivor named Will Martinez very happy with a meeting through the Make-A-Wish foundation. Martinez, a huge J. J. Watt fan who had battled Leukemia for three years, got the opportunity to hangout with his favorite player and even attend two Houston Texans practices and break down the huddle.
In 2021, Watt spent a day with another young fan, writing in an Instagram post about how the experience impacted him: “Levi is an incredible young man who has an absolute heart of gold (even though he did score a touchdown on me in my own home stadium). It was a true pleasure spending the day with him and his family yesterday at Camp Randall. They came fully decked out in Cards gear, which was such a kind gesture and Levi even brought me a birthday gift (after reminding me that my birthday is on Monday because I had completely forgotten.)”