Who’s that with Rodgers, Mahomes on TV? It’s a State Farm agent from Tempe

Sports

Tempe insurance agent Patrick Minnis (right) stars with Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (left) and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in a new State Farm ad. (Photo courtesy of State Farm) (Jacob Rosenfarb – Cronkite News)

TEMPE – Patrick Minnis knows his commercials air on television a lot. He understands that the popularity of his co-stars, two of the NFL’s best-known quarterbacks, is the reason the ads appear so often that it seems as if they’re on a loop.

He feels your pain.

Still, Minnis admits he feels a tinge of pride when he hears those familiar four notes of the State Farm Insurance jingle, signaling his spot in the company’s nationwide campaign as the insurance agent of Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is coming on. He still enjoys listening to dialogue and feeling the rapport he developed with Rodgers, built up through hours of off-camera conversation. He still cranks up the volume for his favorite spots in the series. 

His kids? Not so much.

“At first, my kids were excited,” said Minnis, who lives in Tempe and operates his own State Farm agency there. “Now, they hear it and don’t even turn their heads to look at it.”

Minnis’s path to fame began in June of 2018 with a seemingly inconspicuous audition, done over FaceTime, for a role Minnis didn’t even know existed yet. Despite reading for the part of what he would later learn is the insurance agent for Rodgers, it didn’t click for Minnis that he would potentially be featured alongside the NFL star until he received a call the following day alerting him that he had won the job.

Only 48 hours later, Minnis was on a flight to Los Angeles to begin shooting. He was just the latest real State Farm agent to appear in a stretch of iconic commercials for the company, which uses real employees in its advertising campaigns. Minnis spent seven days in Hollywood filming multiple ads that aired throughout the 2018 NFL season and beyond.

“To be honest I have no idea why they picked me, it’s total luck,” Minnis said. “I’m glad they did, but I didn’t do anything special.”

The success of the commercials prompted the continuation of the series for the 2019 season, this time with the addition of Mahomes. For Minnis, this meant he would continue in his role for a second year, a rare feat for agents lucky enough to appear even once on camera. It also meant that Minnis would now be rubbing shoulders with not one but two of the NFL’s brightest stars, an intimidating task for even a seasoned vet like Minnis.

Both Rodgers and Mahomes are among the league’s premier talents, both taking home NFL Most Valuable Player trophies in the last five years while appearing in their fair share of other commercials.  And yet, according to Minnis the shoots could not have gone better, with both quarterbacks making the State Farm agent feel comfortable on the set.

“Aaron Rodgers couldn’t have been nicer … Patrick Mahomes, this year he joined the crew, and he couldn’t have been nicer either,” Minnis said. “It was great, because I’m just a State Farm agent, this guy’s an actor (David Haydn-Jones who plays Gabe, Rodgers other agent), this guy’s probably the best quarterback ever (Rodgers) and this other guy probably will be the best quarterback ever (Mahomes). For them all to be nice is hitting the jackpot.”

The success of the series has allowed the commercials producers to get especially creative with their ideas. One of Minnis’s personal favorites was a commercial dubbed “Gabe’s Worst Nightmare,” which places the foursome in a sort of dystopian football dream.

“The production company did a great job with that one,” Minnis said. “We actually shot it at the football stadium where the Chargers play now. We shot that at midnight. They had the fog and all that. It was pretty cool how they did it, and the way it came out was awesome.”

Through the entire process, Minnis acknowledges that his favorite bi-product of the commercials has been the friends and family reaching out after seeing his familiar face on their television. He can be hard to catch if you’re not looking for him, but when people do, Minnis reports they are typically some combination of shocked and excited to now be friends with a bonafide celebrity.

“That was the best part of it –last year more so – was that people that I haven’t talked to for 20 years reached out, especially on Facebook, because they saw me and were like ‘what are you doing,’ ” Minnis said. “That was cool because I’m from Louisiana, and I also worked in North Carolina, so all those people, people I haven’t talked to in so long, reached out. So it was a lot of fun.”

One of those people to reach out was Arte Richard, an old friend of Minnis’ from his days in Lafayette, Louisiana, where Minnis also got some experience in front of cameras.

The two were coworkers at KATC, Lafayette’s ABC affiliate, where Minnis was a sportscaster and Richard the creative services director. The duo worked in tandem to produce a string of commercial spots for the stations, Minnis’s first exposure to a world he never imagined he would re-enter.

“First of all he’s like the nicest guy you could ever hope to meet,” Richard said. “It’s really cool that this has happened to him because it couldn’t have happened to a better guy.”

Minnis spent 10 years at KATC, eventually moving on to pharmaceutical sales before settling in Arizona with State Farm. He remembers his early days as a sportscaster fondly, but is happy to now have a job that allows him to never miss one of his kid’s sporting events or dance recitals.

Even if they won’t watch his commercials.

“It’s funny because I was a sportscaster for so long, and my goal was to make it to national TV,” Minnis said. “Show you how funny life is, I became a State Farm agent and I made it to national TV.”

For more stories from Cronkite News, visit cronkitenews.azpbs.org.

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