There’s no question in anybody’s mind that the Super Bowl has become an annual tradition for Americans. It may not have the historical significance of Independence Day or the rich story behind Thanksgiving, but Super Bowl Sunday has morphed into a weekend holiday for this country. One really cool thing about the spectacle is the traditions that have been created out of the tradition, and one in particular, is close to the hearts of the automotive industry. See, every year, the player who gets named Super Bowl MVP wins more than just a spot in the NFL’s history books. He also wins a car; and it’s usually a pretty good one at that.

That tradition goes all the way back to the first Super Bowl in 1967 when Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr received a Chevrolet Corvette for leading the Packers to a 35 to 10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. A year later, Starr once again took MVP honors in Super Bowl II – a 33 to 14 win over the Oakland Raiders – and he once again took home a Corvette for his efforts.

Over the years, we’ve seen a number of cars handed over to Super Bowl MVPs. That tradition has continued in the last decade and change when the keys to cars like the Cadillac Escalade and the Chevrolet Corvette were given to the game’s best player. In fact, if you go all the way back to Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004, the Escalade and Corvette have dominated the MVP’s winning car. All told, since 2004, the Escalade has been awarded to the Super Bowl MVP a total of five times. The Chevrolet Corvette is second with a total of two models while the Cadillac XLR, Chevrolet Camaro, Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Colorado have been awarded once. Only twice in that span – 2010 and 2016 – when no cars were awarded to the game’s MVP. Tough luck for Drew Brees and Von Miller.

Now that we’re a week away from Super Bowl LI, let’s take a drive down memory lane and go back to Super Bowl XXXVIII to see which Super Bowl MVP got which car for his exploits in the game.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Super Bowl XXXVIII
MVP: Tom Brady
Car: Cadillac Escalade

2015 Cadillac Escalade High Resolution Exterior
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Super Bowl XXXVIII was the New England Patriots’ second Super Bowl in four seasons and Brady established himself as one of the greatest quarterbacks in the game with a masterful performance, passing for 354 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Pats to a thrilling 32 to 29 win over the Carolina Panthers. For his efforts, Brady was afforded the opportunity to choose which Cadillac he wanted from a list that includes the Escalade, SRX, CTS, and XLR. Ultimately, Brady opted for the Escalade before specifying that he wanted a silver ESV variant.

Brady ended up donating the car to his school, Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., in order to raise money for a sports funding campaign. The SUV was ultimately raffled off with the proceeds amounting to an impressive $365,000.

Super Bowl XXXIX
MVP: Deion Branch
Car: Cadillac XLR

2009 Cadillac XLR
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The New England Patriots became the first team since the 1997-1998 Denver Broncos to repeat as Super Bowl champions and while Brady once again stood tall with a 236-yard, two-touchdown performance, it was teammate Deion Branch who ended up taking MVP honors after hauling in 11 catches for 133 yards. The Pats wideout eventually chose a Cadillac XLR, which he presumably held onto until 2014 when he posted a message on Twitter indicating his plan to sell the car “for the right price.”

Super Bowl XL
MVP: Hines Ward
Car: Cadillac Escalade

The Cadillac Escalade once again returned as the car-of-choice of the Super Bowl MVP when Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward opted for the SUV as his winning car. The whole game was a sloppy affair but Ward managed to still rack up 123 yards on just five catches to go with a touchdown in leading the Steelers to a 21 to 10 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

Super Bowl XLI
MVP: Peyton Manning
Car: Cadillac Escalade

Long before Peyton Manning became one of the faces of Buick, the recently retired quarterback took home – you guessed it – a Cadillac Escalade for leading the Indianapolis Colts to a 29 to 17 victory over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. Like Brady and Ward before him, Manning was given a chance to choose the Escalade, STS, XLR, and CTS. Ol’ Omaha himself opted to get the SUV over the other choices.

Super Bowl XLII
MVP: Eli Manning
Car: Cadillac Escalade Hybrid

2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid
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For the fourth time in five years, the Cadillac Escalade was awarded to the Super Bowl MVP. And for the second year in a row, it went to a Manning. It was Peyton’s younger brother, Eli, who drove home with an Escalade Hybrid after leading the New York Giants to one of the most improbable victories in Super Bowl history: a 17 to 14 victory over Brady and the Patriots, who were at that time were one win away from completing only the second perfect season in NFL history. For throwing 255 yards, hitting two touchdowns, and connecting on one of the most infamous plays in Super Bowl history (the Helmet Catch!), Manning the Younger definitely deserved that Escalade Hybrid.

Super Bowl XLIII
MVP: Santonio Holmes
Car: Cadillac Escalade Hybrid

Another year, another Cadillac Escalade for the Super Bowl MVP. Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes went home with the award and the SUV this year for leading the Steelers to a dramatic 27 to 23 come-from-behind victory over the Arizona Cardinals. In the game, Holmes went off for nine catches, 131 yards, and the game-clinching touchdown with 35 seconds left in the game. This year is also memorable because it marks the last time the Escalade was awarded to a Super Bowl MVP.

Super Bowl XLIV
MVP: Drew Brees
Car: None

The first of only two times in the past 12 Super Bowls were the MVP of the game wasn’t given a car. According to reports, Cadillac withdrew from the annual MVP giveaway in the wake of the 2009 auto bailout. Apparently, handing over a free car after getting billions of government dollars wasn’t good for publicity. Poor Drew Brees, right?

Super Bowl XLV
MVP: Aaron Rodgers
Car: Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

2016 - 2017 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible High Resolution Exterior
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The Green Bay Packers returned to the top of the NFL mountain with a hard-fought 31 to 25 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers led the way for the Pack, passing for a 304 yards and three touchdowns on his way to being named the game’s MVP. Just as important, A-Rodg ended up receiving a Chevrolet Camaro Convertible for his efforts in getting the Packers its fourth Super Bowl title in franchise history.

Super Bowl XLVI
MVP: Eli Manning
Car: Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport

2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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In a scene reminiscent of Super Bowl XLII, the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots, 21 to 17, to secure its second Super Bowl in five years. Once again, Eli Manning took center stage with another comeback before finishing the game with 296 passing yards and one touchdown. Unlike in Super Bowl XLII, Manning took home a sportier ride when he was awarded a Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport.

Super Bowl XLVII
MVP: Joe Flacco
Car: Chevrolet Corvette

2014 - 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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In a game that’s best remember for the blackout that plagued the New Orleans Superdome, Joe Flacco led the Baltimore Ravens to a dramatic 34 to 31 win over the San Francisco 49ers. Flacco threw for 287 yards and three touchdowns in the win and as luck would have it, the Ravens QB, on top of winning MVP honors that night, also took home what was then the all-new, next-generation Chevrolet Corvette C7.

Super Bowl XLVIII
MVP: Malcolm Smith
Car: Chevrolet Silverado

2016 Chevrolet Silverado High Resolution Exterior
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From SUVs to muscle cars to sports cars, the Super Bowl MVP’s winning car has evolved throughout the decade. In Super Bowl XLVIII, Seattle Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith took home something different when he won MVP honors after leading a dominant Seahawks defense to a 43 to 8 shellacking of Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Smith ultimately ended up with a Chevrolet Silverado High Country.

Super Bowl XLIX
MVP: Tom Brady
Car: Chevrolet Colorado

2015 Chevrolet Colorado High Resolution Exterior
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In what is arguably considered as one of the most dramatic Super Bowls in recent memory, the New England Patriots won their fourth Super Bowl title with a thrilling 28 to 24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Brady ended up throwing for 328 yards and four touchdowns in leading the Pats’ comeback, but the game will always be remembered for Malcolm Butler’s game-clinching interception of Russell Wilson in the Patriots’ 1-yard line. Not surprising then that Brady ended up giving the Colorado to Butler for essentially saving the Pats from an epic collapse.

Super Bowl 50
MVP: Von Miller
Car: None

For reasons that are still confusing, the NFL didn’t have a car sponsor for Super Bowl 50 so just like Brees before him, Von Miller’s MVP performance in leading the Denver Broncos to a 24 to 10 win over the Carolina Panthers didn’t amount to a free car.

What car is going to be presented to the MVP of Super Bowl XLI?

As it stands, Hyundai is the official car and SUV sponsor of the National Football League. The Korean automaker’s new luxury sub-brand, Genesis, presented a pair of G80 sedans to the two MVPs of the Pro Bowl so the smart bet here is that the MVP of Super Bowl XLI will receive a Hyundai. The question is: which one is it going to be?

A few notable cars to consider would be the Hyundai Elantra or Sonata. If it’s an SUV, it’s likely going to be the Santa Fe. Those are good options, but Hyundai could also turn to Genesis to reward the Super Bowl MVP with another G80, or maybe even a G90 since the game is bigger and far more important than the Pro Bowl.

I’d put my money on the G90 to be car that the MVP will take home. I could be wrong, but it all adds up considering what Hyundai gave away in the Pro Bowl. Unless another automaker has this deal with the NFL, I don’t see a scenario wherein the Pro Bowl MVPs get a better car than the Super Bowl MVP.

What do you think?
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