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A soldier holds an American flag before the first half of an NFL football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots, in Atlanta in 2013.
David Goldman—AP
Updated: | Originally published:

Correction appended, Nov. 5

A new report reveals that some acts of patriotism at professional sporting events were actually expensive marketing ploys paid out by the Pentagon.

A joint oversight report put out Wednesday by by Arizona Republican Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain found that the Pentagon has spent $6.8 million on “paid patriotism” since 2012. The money was paid out over 72 contracts with teams in the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, and Major League Soccer.

For example, the Atlanta Falcons were paid $315,000 in 2013 for having 80 members of the National Guard unfurl an American flag on the field. The New York Mets received $10,000 for the Air Force to conduct an on-field swearing-in ceremony.

The Department of Defense has now banned the practice of “paid patriotism.” “It is time to allow major sports teams’ legitimate tributes to our soldiers to shine with national pride rather than being cast under the pallor of marketing gimmicks paid for by American taxpayers,” the report says.

Correction: This article originally misidentified the junior Senator for Arizona. He is Jeff Flake.

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