Paralympian Jessica Long Shares Her Adoption Story in Must-See Super Bowl Ad

In a Super Bowl commercial, Jessica Long, a 28-year-old swimmer who has won 23 Paralympic medals, reflected on her journey after being adopted at 13 months old. Watch the advertisement here.

By Elyse Dupre Feb 08, 2021 3:52 PMTags

Jessica Long is sharing her story.

In a Super Bowl ad that aired on Sunday, Feb. 7, the 28-year-old swimmer looked back at her road to becoming the second most-decorated Paralympian in U.S. history. 

Long was adopted from an orphanage in Russia when she was 13 months old. According to the International Paralympic Committee, she was born without fibula bones, ankles or heels and her legs were amputated below the knee to fit her with prosthetics when she was 18 months old.

In a 60-second spot for Toyota titled "Upstream," Long's journey is reenacted, starting with her mother, Beth, receiving a phone call from the adoption agency. "Mrs. Long?" a voice says. "We found a baby girl for your adoption, but there's some things you need to know: She's in Siberia and she was born with a rare condition. Her legs will need to be amputated. I know this is difficult to hear, but her life, it won't be easy."

As the advertisement continues, viewers see a series of flashbacks. From Long joining her first swim team at age 10 to her competing as an adult, several major moments are depicted. At one point, she looks back at her mother on the phone.

"It might not be easy, but it will be amazing," the parent responds. "I can't wait to meet her."

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During an interview with Toyota, Long recalled filming that scene. "When I filmed that scene where I swim up to the edge and turn around to look at my mom and dad, I put myself there, back to that time," she said. "Those emotions and that smile were completely real. At moments, I was tearing up in my goggles right on set."

Over the course of her career, Long has won 23 Paralympic medals, including 13 gold. She's also received a number of titles, including the United States Olympic Committee's Paralympic Sports Woman of the Year and Paralympian of the Year.

"It's everything," she told Toyota about the commercial. "It's everything I swam for, everything I've worked really hard for. My biggest hope is that young people see me, a girl without legs in the Paralympics, on TV, and think, ‘I can do that too.'"

Watch the video to see the advertisement.