'Touchdown Jesus' burns after lightning strike


The iconic "Touchdown Jesus" erected in 2004 along I-75 north of Cincinnati, Ohio was struck by lightning and burned to the ground yesterday. The six-story high statue of Jesus from mid-torso up, hands raised toward heaven (a pose some would compare to a football referee's touchdown signal, hence the nickname), was built of foam and fiberglass over a steel frame. The statue was built on the grounds of the non-denominational Solid Rock Church.

Lightning strikes on Jesus statues are not uncommon, since they are often located high in places of prominence.. A strike on perhaps the most famous Jesus statue, the 130 foot-tall concrete one overlooking Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was captured by a photographer two years ago.

The nickname "Touchdown Jesus" is more commonly associated with a raised-arm mural of Jesus on the Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Ind. that can be seen from the football stadium. The Ohio statue gained notoriety and a second nickname when comic singer Heywood Banks memorialized it in "Big Butter Jesus," a play on Ohio's tradition of commissioning butter sculptures for its annual state fair.