A cold can of suds may be the solution to your student debt after all.
Last year, Natural Light — better known as "Natty Light" — announced via a Super Bowl ad that it would be giving away $1,000,000 to help 25 lucky drinkers pay off their student debt. Now, the cheap beer brand of choice for college students across the country has kicked its commitment up a notch, promising to give away $10,000,000 over 10 years and to give away $1,000,000 to help over 70 individuals pay down their student loans in 2019.
During Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, the Anheuser-Busch brand will air a commercial promoting this year's contest and will also run a Twitter contest in which student debt holders can comment on a Natty Light tweet for the chance to win $351 towards their monthly loan payment.
"Natty Light is committed to our loyal drinkers, and we recognize that student loan debt is something that has a particularly big impact on many of their lives. Whether it's 21+ college students or recent graduates, this issue has become so prevalent it was clear that we needed to address it however we could," Daniel Blake, Senior Director of Value Brands, Anheuser-Busch tells CNBC Make It via email. "The reason we're committing $10,000,000 to this through 2028 is two-fold. First, a problem of this size doesn't go away overnight so we wanted to show that we're truly in it for the long haul. Second, the bigger we can make this program, the more we can help advance a conversation around addressing college debt on a national stage. While it's going to be a long journey, we're proud to put a stake in the ground on this issue and support our loyal community this year and beyond."
This year's ad strikes a similar tone to its predecessor, beginning with somber violin music before text reads, "44 million Americans suffer from college debt. We're not cool with that."
The ad turns to a montage of clips of the 2018 winners' videos, some silly and some serious. One clip shows a man playing a guitar while being sprayed by Natty Light. Another shows a woman describing her experience serving as a combat medic in Afghanistan. The final clip shows a man crying after he learned he had won $40,000 from Natty Light to pay off his student loans.
The brand's increased commitment to the cause of student debt indicates that last-year's student-debt focused ad, featuring the tagline "college debt sucks," struck a chord with consumers and that not much has changed for debt-holders. The ad was not just a clever way to market their product, it was also a sign of the times.
Debt has become an inevitable part of going to college for millions of Americans. The most recent Survey of Household Economics and Decision-making (SHED) from the Federal Reserve Board indicates that 42 percent of Americans who attended college, and 30 percent of all adults, have incurred debt in order to finance a degree.
This phenomenon is having a significant impact on borrowers beyond college. The Federal Reserve Board of Washington, D.C. found that an increase in student debt has led to a decrease in home ownership. A study from NerdWallet predicts that students who graduated from college in 2015 will have to delay retirement until the age of 75, in part because of the increasing burden of student debt.
Historically, beer company sweepstakes offered fun, flashy experiences, like party cruises or tickets to the Super Bowl. But now, paying off student debt is one of the most exciting things that millennials can imagine. For this generation of consumers, suddenly becoming debt-free is the equivalent of winning the lottery.
Interested student debt holders have until May to post a video describing their inspiration for going to college with the hastags #contest and #NattyStories for the chance to win their share of the 2019 $1,000,000 pot.
"Last year, the College Debt Relief Program had a major impact on the Natty community, both financially and emotionally." said Blake in a statement. "But, student debt in America continues to rise, so we're coming back with an even stronger commitment that will make an impact well beyond 2019."
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