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Eddie Denny with his and wife Amy's three kids. He's holding 5-month-old Ruby; Hazel, 2, is on the right and 5-year-old August is on the left.

A Nebraska family was featured in a Super Bowl commercial seen by millions.

A photo of Eddie Denny and his three kids was included in a Kraft commercial during the game’s second half Sunday.

Kraft asked people to submit photos and video of their families through social media. Denny, who submitted his family photo Sunday morning, said he learned soon after that his picture was a finalist. But he figured that the chances were about zero that the photo would end up in the commercial.

The Kraft commercial wasn’t the only one that included a regional tie. A commercial for Cenex, an energy brand that includes gas stations and convenience stores, showcased the western Iowa community of Audubon. The lighthearted ad shows Audubon residents unimpressed with the Super Bowl because the town has its “super bull” — a 30-foot , 45-ton roadside attraction named Albert the Bull. And an ad for Universal Parks & Resorts featured Peyton Manning and included him shouting, “Omaha,” which the former NFL quarterback used to call out at the line of scrimmage.

The Kraft commercial wasn’t the only one that included a regional tie. A commercial for Cenex, an energy brand that includes gas stations and convenience stores, showcased the western Iowa community of Audubon. The lighthearted ad shows Audubon residents unimpressed with the Super Bowl because the town has its “super bull” — a 30-foot , 45-ton roadside attraction named Albert the Bull. And an ad for Universal Parks & Resorts featured Peyton Manning and included him shouting, “Omaha,” which the former NFL quarterback used to call out at the line of scrimmage.

Denny and his wife, Amy, got a big surprise when the photo appeared during the Kraft commercial.

“When the photo came across (the screen), we were like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ ” Eddie Denny said.

Kraft said there were more than 20,000 submissions.

The 30-second commercial shows snapshots of families and includes a voice-over that starts out: “Tonight, thanks to all the photos and videos you shared, you showed us thousands of ways to family. There’s this way, those ways, even that way.” The photo of Denny and his kids flashes on the screen as the voice-over says: “Even that way” — almost like the photo is an exclamation point in the ad.

The couple said as soon as the commercial aired, their phones blew up with calls and text messages from family and friends who spotted the photo.

Eddie Denny said he’s a stay-at-home dad who also runs a photo business. He mounted a camera and a tripod and set up studio lights so he could capture himself and his kids just right.

The family lives in Kearney, and the photo shows Eddie Denny sitting on a couch holding a bowl of popcorn and 5-month-old Ruby. Hazel, 2, is standing on the couch holding a football, and 5-year-old August is peeking out from behind the bowl of popcorn. Dad has an excited expression on his face, as if his team just scored a touchdown. Popcorn is flying out of the bowl.

Kraft said it wanted to showcase a mix of real families in the ad, which is part of Kraft’s Family Greatly campaign.

”We’re excited to give families center stage in our Super Bowl commercial,” Anne Field, director of brand building for Kraft, said in a news release last month.

Amy Denny, a teacher in Kearney, said her husband knows how to have fun with their kids. He’s the kind of dad who will make a fort in the living room out of blankets, she said.

She said the picture captures that energy.

“It was just a thrill to think so many people saw that,” she said.

oconnor@owh.com, 402-444-1122

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