Rob Gronkowski sends local veteran to Super Bowl LVI

Gronk and USAA partnered with USO for a surprise gift
Erik Hanno Army.png
Erik Hanno Gaming.png
Posted at 3:55 PM, Feb 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-11 18:24:31-05

WESLEY CHAPEL, FL — "He tweeted that. I’m like, no way. That’s ridiculous. This is insane."

That was Army veteran Erik Hanno's reaction when he saw a tweet from Bucs tight end, Rob Gronkowski, saying Hanno was going to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. Gronk partnered with USAA and the USO to send Hanno, now a professional video gamer, to the biggest game on the planet.

"They reached out to me. They’re like 'Hey, we have a really cool opportunity for ya.' I was like eh, what could it be. Are we streaming with some active-duty guys? Streaming with celebrities or something? Cool! I’m always excited to do those things."

Hanno's part of the USO's Gaming Ambassadors. It's a group that connects with active duty veterans through gaming. Aside from providing game consoles, they live stream, fundraise, and boost morale for our servicemen and women. This was Gronk's unique way of saying thank you.

"I got the call, and they were like 'Do you want to go to the Super Bowl?" Hanno smiled. "And I was like, whoa. Whoa. Yeah. I want to go to the Super Bowl."

Hanno's an Eagles fan, but he doesn't care who wins this year's big game.

"I don’t care who’s in there. It could be anybody at this point," he said "It’s the Super Bowl. I mean, how often do you get to say 'I've been to the Super Bowl?' when it’s not for work, or something like that."

Erik received a Purple Heart after serving in the U.S. Army from 2006-'13. He says partnerships with the NFL and players like Rob Gronkowski help boost the entire veteran community.

"It’s great. It’s bringing eyes on a community that could use the eyes," Hanno said. "And to have that type of personality as a part of this is going to be huge. To just bring light on veterans and the things that we go through."

Hanno gets two tickets to Sunday's game. He's giving the other one to his wife, Stacy.

"She was obviously the first choice. We get to experience this together," Erik said. "This is a bucket list item for me. And her being here for that, with me, is going to be better than anything else."

Super Bowl LVI between the L.A. Rams and Cincinnati Bengals kicks off Sunday at 6:30 PM Eastern from SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. It will be the second straight year and the second time ever that a team will play a Super Bowl on its home field.