One sweet deal: Skittles steps up to benefit Marshawn Lynch’s foundation

Posted Jan 28, 2014

Marshawn Lynch began eating Skittles, or ‘power pellets,’ in Pop Warner football. Now he’s signed an endorsement deal and can aide his Fam First Foundation in Sunday’s Super Bowl. 

NEWARK, N.J. – Marshawn Lynch’s fondness for Skittles is turning into a sweet deal for his Fam First Foundation.

The Seahawks’ Beast Mode running back, who has been popping the popular treat since his days in Pop Warner football, has signed an endorsement deal with Skittles, it was announced Tuesday. In addition to paying Lynch, the company also will donate $10,000 to his child-focused foundation for every touchdown he scores in Super Bowl XLVIII against the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

“We came together to help out the charity,” Lynch said during Media Day at the Prudential Center. “It’s awesome. It’s big to actually have their support with the foundation. That’s big time.”

The company is issuing a Seattle Mix, which includes only blue and green Skittles. And there will be an auction Wednesday for a Skittles-covered helmet and football, as well as a Skittles-covered megaphone to honor the team’s 12th Man fans.

While Lynch is no stranger to Skittles, or “power pellets” as his mom used to call them, they did not become an obsession for fans of the Seahawks until he was acquired in a 2010 trade with the Buffalo Bills. TV cameras would catch Lynch eating Skittles on the sideline, a habit that was highlighted during the Seahawks’ nationally televised games against the Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams in the second half of the 2011 season.

One thing led to another, and Lynch is now showered with Skittles every time he scores a touchdown – which he has done 17 times this season, including the playoffs; and did 14 times in 2012, also including playoffs, and 13 times in 2011.

It has gotten to the point where stores in the Seattle area can’t stock enough Skittles, especially in the larger-sized bags, when the Seahawks are playing at home.

Asked after those 2011 games when he was showered with Skittles for his reaction to the whole world getting a peek at his sideline ritual, Lynch initially wasn’t sure what to say. Then he would offer, “I think people got it mixed up, like it’s a prize that I get Skittles for scoring a touchdown.”

Lynch paused and heaved a sigh before adding, “If you want to know the truth, you’ve got to ask my mama.”

Which did early in the 2012 offseason: So Delisa Lynch, what is the truth behind what has become the Skittles phenomenon?

“When Marshawn was 12 or 13, we’d go to his games and I’d always have little candies in my purse,” Lynch’s mama explained. “Before the game, I would say, ‘Here Marshawn, come and get you power pellets.’

“I would give him a handful of Skittles and say, ‘Eat ’em up, baby. They’re going to make you run fast and they’re going to make you play good.”

Delisa Lynch then laughed. Part of her joy was just retelling the story that so few actually knew; part of it was the bewilderment she shared with her son over the way the story was mangled that season.

“So that’s where it comes from,” she said. “I don’t know about that touchdown-reward story, because everybody was saying this and everybody was saying that. But I would just say, ‘They don’t even know the half of it.’

“The real is story is I would give him Skittles before the game when he was playing Pop Warner.”

That, of course, was just the introductory chapter in the saga that has become Lynch munching Skittles. It continued during his career at Oakland Technical High School. It carried over to his days at the University of California at Berkeley. It has followed him, obviously, to Seattle and the Seahawks.

“In high school, I had his ‘power pellets,’ ” Delisa Lynch said. “Then at Cal, they would buy them by the case because they knew his mama gave him his Skittles.”

Offered Marshawn, “It really took off in college, when they gave me a pack of Skittles on the sideline at Cal. But it didn’t blow up the way it has like this.”

It could be that Seahawks fans were just hungry for any feel-good story, and also that the Skittles-munching Lynch had captured their passion with his Beast Mode running style.

After a slow start in his first season with the Seahawks (573 rushing yards and six touchdowns in 12 games), Lynch took off in 2011 with career-highs in rushing yards (1,204) and touchdowns (13) – and so did the Skittles connection. Then came 2012, when Lynch set a new career-best in rushing yards (1,590) and also had 12 TDs in the regular season and two more in the playoffs. This season, he had 1,257 rushing yards and a career-high 14 TDs during the regular season and has added a league-leading 249 rushing yards and three more TDs in two postseason games.

So whenever the Seahawks played at CenturyLink Field, the forecast called for Skittles showers.

His mama has watched in amusement and amazement at the reaction to something she started all those years ago.

“I saw him take a handful of Skittles from somebody on the sideline and put them in his mouth,” she said. “I said, ‘They’re giving my baby his power pellets, they’d better watch out.’

“I’m totally surprised by what the reaction has been.”

And it has followed Delisa, as well as her famous son.

“I went to a new church, and somebody in the congregation must have known that I was Marshawn’s mom,” she said. “Because this little guy came up to me and said, ‘The pastor wants to know if you’ve got any Skittles.’ That was the funniest thing.”

From Marshawn’s mom to the Skittles Lady. But Delisa has been embracing the notoriety.

“I’ve got pictures on my Facebook page with my Skittles at work and my Seattle jersey on,” said Delisa, who works for AT&T.

To say she is a proud mother doesn’t come close to describing Delisa’s relationship with her oldest child – she also has a daughter, Marreesah; and a younger son, Devonte.

“Priceless” is the word she chose. “And it’s really funny, because I remember him playing Pop Warner and I was at every single game,” she said.

She got her first glimpse of what Marshawn might be able to become when he was playing junior varsity football in high school.

“Everybody came up to me and said, ‘Your son, he is such an amazing player. He’s really good. He’s going places,’ ” she recalled. “They were telling me this when he was a freshman in high school.”

Lynch moved to the varsity as a sophomore, and it was during his junior year that the recruiting letters starting coming from colleges and universities.

“When I found out my baby could go to college and get a scholarship, I just felt blessed,” she said. “He’s just such an amazing kid.”

Who has grown into an amazing player, and a unique person. But that doesn’t surprise his mother.

“I’ll tell you why, and nobody knows this either,” Delisa said. “When I was pregnant with Marshawn, he was supposed to have a twin. When I had Marshawn, another placenta came out. That’s when the midwife said, ‘Don’t be surprised if he’s an amazingly strong child.’

“So Marshawn is a twin to himself.”

One that has been fueled by power pellets since an early age, and is now cashing in on his fondness for Skittles.