In Diggins commercial, Afton loses the gold to Stillwater

As painful as it is to admit it, Comcast’s Jesse Diggins commercial was pretty special.

It aired the other night, moments after the American audience saw a taped version of her exciting “Here Comes Diggins!” win for cross-country gold.

Ostensibly, it was a tribute to Diggins and her hometown of Afton, but we noticed something disturbing in its lovely portrayal of Afton. I don’t think it’s Afton.

It does feature the Chilkoot Cafe.

It’s in Stillwater.

The commercial also opens with a pretty night shot of downtown Afton. That’s Stillwater, too.


And this lovely introduction to the town?

That’s a dead ringer for Lowell Park. In Stillwater, Population: 19,292.

[Update: a friend notes that the flagpole was electronically added and that it’s likely Pioneer Park]

Other than that, it could make an Aftonite positively teary eyed.

The commercial included scenes from the race earlier in the day. AdWeek reveals how it was done in its “Ad of the Day” segment.

“Our first [Olympics] ad, ‘The Big Farewell,’ which started airing in late November, told the story of a handful of athletes as they are saying goodbye to their families and communities,” said Rudnay, adding that the newer “3 A.M.” spot centers on the true story of how Diggins’ hometown “gets together before she races, when they all go to a cafe and watch her.”

“We crafted a story that would resonate no matter what happened,” Kaplan said. “In the end, the commercial isn’t just a celebration of Jessie and her hometown. It’s also about the pride Comcast takes in bringing the Olympics to hometowns everywhere. … We knew the Comcast-NBC relationship created the opportunity to pivot and tell Olympic stories as they unfolded. It was Jessie’s moment. We’re thrilled we were able to help make it a little more special.”

“Literally as soon as we saw it on Tuesday … everybody on the Comcast and 72andSunny teams went into gear,” Rudnay said, with Kaplan adding, “We were ready, and it turned out better than we could’ve hoped for.”

  • crystals

    Thank you for this, because it has been driving me crazy each time the commercial comes on (which is a lot). I was 99.8% sure those shots weren’t of Afton and its itty bitty main drag, but I also couldn’t believe anyone would make a commercial about Afton that wasn’t actually in Afton.

    Now I’m going to go watch the call of the last minute of Jessie Diggins’s race for the twentieth time.

    • I figure if it doesn’t have Selma’s or the Old Afton House in it, it ain’t Afton.

      • Afton…isn’t that just East Woodbury?

        • Afton is the anti-Woodbury, actually.

          • Jerry

            It’s Woodbury’s country cousin, who dabbles in pottery.

          • Rob

            Yes! Afton is a cool area to motorcycle through. Woodbury, not so much.

    • And she was a Stillwater Pony, so they could’ve just as well made it a tribute to Stillwater.

    • Jeff

      I had already been spoiled and knew her team won, but it was still thrilling. Especially when the Swede misses the tackle and she goes straight over the finish line.

  • MrE85

    If a famous athlete comes out of Blaine and they show scenes of Coon Rapids in the commercial, I’m going to explode in bitter rage.

    • Meh, it’s not like they are confusing Minneapolis and St. Paul.

      Blaine, Coon Rapids, Woodbury, Plymouth, Bloomington…they are all the same. Strip malls and crappy chain restaurants.


      • MrE85

        Perhaps, but our streets are plowed.

        • …all 10 of them.

        • Jerry

          I guess that is the advantage of having the garage and driveway be the defining features of neighborhoods

          • Lot of east metro hate here today.

          • Nah, just suburban hate.


            /Grew up in the suburbs…live in the city now.

          • Jerry

            Also north, south, and west metro.

            But my greater point was that having large garages and driveways makes it much easier to plow then in areas where on-street parking is a requirement.

          • Rob

            Right? You know you’re in a suburb when what looks like the house’s backside is the part that faces the street.

      • Any of those have the St. Croix River out the front door? Afton’s a great little town. So is Stillwater. Doesn’t sound like you’ve ever been to either.

        • MrE85

          No, but some of those Coon Rapids homes have a fine view of the Mississippi River from their back door. I briefly lived at a riverfront home in Windom. God, it was beautiful at sunrise and sunset.

          • Joseph

            Thank you for the beautiful picture of summer. I needed that 🙂

          • Rob

            Purty. How were the mosquitos and biting flies?

        • I’ve been all over up and down the St. Croix…I’m just poking the bear a little.

          /Notice the *wink* in that last post?

        • Rob

          And Stillwater is now way mo’ bettah, with the traffic closure of the lift bridge.

      • Coon Rapids is the only one to be featured in Doonesbury:

        I’ll stick with Woodbury – we have a great trail system that I use every day, and best of all it isn’t named “Coon Rapids”.

        • Plus it has a myriad of public transportation to/from “the big city” – Right Bob?


          • Most of the money available for providing public transportation had to go to the city folks so they could have both a bus and a train on the same route.

            Live where you want; let others live where they want.

          • I know, still just having a bit of fun with this.

            So far as your beef with the public transportation system and the lack thereof in the outlying areas of the metro, I’m with you. It’s such a shame the Metro area got rid of their world-class trolley system in the name of greed.

          • Joe

            The only place I know of with a train and bus on the same route is the 16, a service to provide the elderly and differently abled a route so they don’t have to walk an extra 1/3 mile to the train stop.

            Let’s do some comparisons, though. The 16 route is less than 7 miles long. Along it’s route, there are 50,000 people and over 10,000 jobs within a half mile of a bus stop (not counting downtown St. Paul).

            Meanwhile, a bus from downtown St. paul to Tamarack Village would be 8.5 miles long, with <2,000 jobs and <1,000 residents within 1 mile of a bus stop. Meaning you'd have to build a park-and-ride to gain any ridership. Those cost at least $10 million.

            So when the options are:
            A) serve vast amounts of people for very cheap
            B) serve a small number of people for a lot of money

            ,Metro Transit chose option A. Which seems quite reasonable.

    • SPHINX

      If a famous athlete comes out of Mounds View, they’ll just show the topless Mermaid statue inter-cut with shots of downtown St. Paul.

      • MrE85

        I’m cool with that. Anything for the Watery Tart Who Broke My Heart.

  • Carol S.

    Not being from that part of the Twin Cities, I didn’t realize that the Afton shots were actually Stillwater. I did wonder though, as I saw the commercial come on right after her race was broadcast, whether they had replaced the previous footage with the race footage. Glad to see they at least had that base covered. I nearly cried after that airing.

    • KTFoley

      You’re right, the version of the commercial that was played earlier in the games was updated to add the finish line footage.

  • MarkUp

    A place where the beer flows like wine, where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. I’m talking about a little place called…

    • Rob

      Capistrano has salmon? Do tell.

  • KTFoley

    From the Kare11 piece, it appears that Diggins has a personal connection to the Chilkoot Cafe above & beyond her ongoing ties to Stillwater High’s X-C ski team, which is why much of the commercial is set there.

    The owner really has hosted watch parties after hours, and has also sponsored fund raising dinners since the start of her international racing travels. The money now goes to support junior skiers.

    I understand from a bicyclist friend that her former technique coaches are in one of the cycling groups that are also sponsored by the Chilkoot Cafe.

  • X.A. Smith

    Don’t worry. In the next Olympics, the IOC will REALLY tell them that they can’t compete, and then let them compete anyway.

  • We knew right away that the scenes were from Stillwater, but to be fair to the spirit of the whole thing, those cities strung along the St. Croix do have a “river town” feel in common. And I’m sure Aftonites shop in Stillwater often, too. There isn’t that much in Afton, but we like Squire House Gardens and walking out to the benches at the far end of the marina.

    • A beautiful spot… especially after you get a big cone of ice cream at Selma’s.

  • beercheese

    I could be wrong about this. But didn’t the race go off at 2 a.m. Minnesota time? The bedside alarm in the commercial is shown going off at 3 a.m., which was the time it aired on the East Coast.

    • KTFoley

      The Women’s Team Sprint started at 5am EST, 4am CST.

  • Bill

    The whole village of Afton was under construction all summer which also might have something to do with it. The roads were all torn up until late in the fall. And the Chilkoot Cafe is a big part of the nordic community in the river valley.