To shine a light on female athletes, Cracker Jack® is funding sports dreams for nine “I Am Cracker Jill® Award” winners and featuring the grand prize winner on brand packaging in 2024
(Plano, TX) — July 20, 2023 — As part of its mission to increase the visibility of girls and women in sports to inspire the next generation, Cracker Jack® is recognizing nine young women today with the I Am Cracker Jill® Award. These recipients are changing the face of the game one goal, one run or one point at a time and will receive $5,000 from Cracker Jack to support their sports endeavors. The grand prize winner, Lindsey Zurbrugg, was also selected to represent aspiring female athletes across the country by being the first athlete to join the Cracker Jill roster and appear on special-edition Cracker Jill packaging.
“The I Am Cracker Jill Award submissions told incredible stories of hundreds of young female athletes across the nation who are working to break down barriers and leave their mark on sports – they are all truly remarkable,” said Leslie Vesper, vice president of marketing, Frito-Lay North America. “We selected Lindsey to become the first real athlete in the brand’s history to join the Cracker Jack roster so that girls nationwide will be inspired to keep playing and keep achieving when they see Lindsey’s story on our bags in stores and in stadiums.”
After becoming disabled at age 13, Lindsey was unsure of what a future in sports would look like for her until she found wheelchair basketball. Ten years later, she has gone on to represent her country on the world’s largest athletic stage and is a current member of the USA Women’s Wheelchair Basketball National Team.
“It is truly an honor to have been selected for the I Am Cracker Jill Award and the funding will go a long way in helping me continue to compete and hopefully inspire another young girl out there to never give up on her sports dreams,” said Zurbrugg. “After discovering my own passion for wheelchair basketball, my goal has been to bring attention to this sport. Being the first athlete featured on the packaging of such an iconic snack brand will be a tremendous help in accomplishing that.”
Zurbrugg’s likeness for the packaging was brought to life by artist and model, Monica Ahanonu. An expert in color theory and a trailblazer for Black artists, Ahanonu created the original Cracker Jill characters for their debut in 2022. The limited-edition packaging featuring Zurbrugg will be available in stores and stadiums nationwide next year.
Recipients were selected from hundreds of inspiring female applicants who applied to the contest through a partnership between Cracker Jack, the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF) and program ambassadors: international soccer star Mallory Swanson, professional swimmer and 29-time Paralympic medalist Jessica Long along with WSF Athlete Ambassador and two-time Paralympic medalist Sophia Herzog-Gibb.
“It was so important for me as a young girl to see others who looked like me competing in sports because it helped me believe that I can follow my dreams, which is why I’m so proud to have worked with Cracker Jack on this program,” said Long. “The more amazing women Cracker Jill can help elevate, the more likely it is that a young girl will be able to see and imagine themselves accomplishing their own dreams.”
To reach more girls with the encouraging stories of its I Am Cracker Jill Award recipients, Swanson will introduce the winners as the next generation of athletes changing the game during a new Cracker Jack :30 commercial that will air on FOX throughout the duration of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™.
Selected for their tenacity on and off the field, the full list of I Am Cracker Jill Award finalists include:
- Bella Rasmussen, Football: From Laguna Beach, Calif., Bella has spent the past four years under the Friday night lights playing football in the hopes of inspiring other young women and girls to pursue their interest in football.
- Corinne Thompson, Modern Pentathlon: From Gainesville, Ga., Corinne learned what it takes to compete with the best in the world after having competed at the international level and continues to train and work hard to prove to herself that she belongs with the best.
- Emma Stertz, Biathlon: Emma credits her hometown of Grand Rapids, Minn. for helping her discover her passion for biathlon, which in turn has helped teach her how to deal with setbacks, especially in overcoming her diagnosis of Scheuermann’s malformation of the spine.
- Jaleen Roberts, Paralympic Track & Field: From Chula Vista, Calif., Jaleen is a two-time Paralympic medalist and uses her platform to inspire other young, marginalized athletes and advocate for ending the stigma around mental health.
- Lindsey Zurbrugg, Wheelchair Basketball: From Hillsboro, Ore., Lindsey understands the important life lessons people can learn from sports like the importance of accountability, work ethic and timeliness.
- Olivia Ohlson-Ellis, Golf and Softball: From Evanston, Ill, Olivia has played a wide range of sports. Sports have taught her important leadership and life skills and she hopes through her sports service work she will help keep young girls participating in golf and softball.
- Sally Cohen, Surfing: Having grown up in Haleiwa, Hawaii, surfing is way more than a sport to Sally, it’s a way of life. As a professional surfer, her sports dream is to inspire other female competitors to be the best versions of themselves.
- Sohana Raisa, Weightlifting: From Sanford, Fla., Sohana is the only Bangladeshi female and Hijabi high school competitive lifter in the state and has used her passion for sports to overcome every obstacle and stereotype in her way to achieve her dreams.
- Tahirah Abdul-Qadir, Martial Arts: Born into a family of world-champion martial artists in Syracuse, N.Y., punching and kicking was always in Tahirah’s future, and she has a laundry list of accolades in the sport to show for it.
“We are proud to continue our partnership on this powerful Cracker Jill initiative,” said Danette Leighton, WSF CEO. “We at the Women’s Sports Foundation know the importance of powerful images to celebrate and inspire young girls and women to reach their potential in sport and in life. It is our hope that these Cracker Jill athletes encourage and empower more girls and young women across the nation to keep playing.”
Cracker Jack’s commitment to investing in women’s sports through the Cracker Jill program includes donating $400,000 to date to the national non-profit WSF to expand access and opportunities for girls and women in sport so they can play, compete, and lead without barriers. This partnership is just one example of Frito-Lay’s commitment to driving equity in sports. Last year, Frito-Lay launched the “All-in with Frito Lay” program, a three-year commitment to increase equity in sports by working with partners and organizations to enhance resources and training for young athletes.
About Cracker Jack
Cracker Jack® brand has been an American favorite for over 120 years and is one of many Frito-Lay North America brands— the $23 billion convenient foods business unit of PepsiCo, Inc. (NASDAQ: PEP), which is headquartered in Purchase, NY. Learn more about Cracker Jack on Instagram (@crackerjackofficial_) on Twitter (@crackerjackUSA) and on Facebook (@CrackerJack).
About Frito-Lay North America
Frito-Lay North America, Inc. is the $23 billion convenient foods division of PepsiCo, Inc. (NASDAQ: PEP), which is headquartered in Purchase, NY. Frito-Lay snacks include Lay’s® and Ruffles® potato chips, Doritos® and Tostitos® tortilla chips and branded dips, Cheetos® snacks, Stacy’s® pita chips, PopCorners® popped-corn snack, SunChips® multigrain snacks and Fritos® corn chips. The company operates 30+ manufacturing facilities across the U.S. and Canada, more than 200 distribution centers and services 315,000 retail customers per week through its direct-store-delivery model. Learn more about Frito-Lay at the corporate website, www.fritolay.com, on Twitter (@fritolay), on Instagram (@fritolay) and on Facebook (Frito-Lay).
About Women’s Sports Foundation
The Women’s Sports Foundation exists to enable girls and women to reach their potential in sport and life. We are an ally, an advocate and a catalyst. Founded by Billie Jean King in 1974, we strengthen and expand participation and leadership opportunities through research, advocacy, community programming and a wide variety of collaborative partnerships. From its inception to Title IX’s 50th anniversary in 2022, WSF has invested over $100 million in these impact efforts, helping to shape the lives of millions of youth, high school and collegiate student-athletes, elite athletes and coaches. We’re building a future where every girl and woman can #KeepPlaying and unlock the lifelong benefits of sport participation. All girls. All women. All sports.® To learn more about the Women’s Sports Foundation, please visit www.WomensSportsFoundation.org.