Ravens Ditch ‘DNA Day’ Promotion for Home Opener at Last Minute

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Photo via Wikimedia Commons

“DNA Day” didn’t go down as planned at M&T Bank Stadium during Sunday’s home opener for the Ravens.

At the 11th hour, franchise brass and DNA testing company ORIG3N decided to call off their interesting, but pretty weird plan to hand out DNA testing kits to all attendees at the Ravens-Browns game. According to a statement sent out by the franchise on behalf of ORIG3N, it had to be rescheduled due to concerns from state officials.

“DNA Day at M&T Bank Stadium will be rescheduled for later this season. We are working to address questions from officials from the state of Maryland,” said the statement from the Boston-based company.

As we reported Friday (via Technical.ly), the plan was to give out free cheek swabs to all attendees that would tell them about their genetic makeup by examining four genes. Those who partook would simply have to grab some cells from inside of their mouth, drop the kit in a collection bin at the stadium, overcome their heebie-jeebies about doing all of that, and then get the results back through an app.

https://twitter.com/ORIG3N_Inc/status/908683829916946432

While some were very excited about the promotion – Ravens senior vice president of corporate sales and business development Kevin Rochlitz called it “a cutting-edge community event” – others expressed worries about privacy.

Bethesda-based attorney Brad Shear, who was interviewed by The Sun about the promotion last week, wrote in detail about the security and legal risks on his blog. He noted ORIG3N’s privacy policy states it can potentially sell users’ personal info to advertisers, insurers, data brokers and other companies, and that it forces users to sign an arbitration clause that blocks them from ever suing the firm.

Such concerns were apparently sufficient to convince state officials to look into the promotion. ORIG3N and the Ravens called it off right before the game yesterday morning. They didn’t specify what they needed to explain, but said they’re still planning to collaborate on a DNA-collection day at another game.

“We received an overwhelmingly positive response to the first-ever DNA Day, and we remain committed to our mission,” said the statement from ORIG3N.

WBAL reports that the Maryland Department of Health received word from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Friday that ORIG3N needed to first obtain additional certification to carry on with its promotion. The company also had to adhere to state laws.

“While the matter could not be remedied in time for yesterday’s game, the state health department is working with both the Ravens and [ORIG3N] collaboratively to help resolve this issue,” department spokeswoman Brittany Fowler wrote to WBAL in an email.

The Ravens improved to 2-0 yesterday with a defensively driven win over the Cleveland Browns. Their next home game is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 1, against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers. Perhaps for that one, the franchise will stick to its guns and go with some good-old-fashioned bobbleheads.

This story has been updated.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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