11-year anniversary: Touchdown Jesus statue hit by lightning June 14, 2021 - Monroe, Ohio The “King of Kings” was a 62-foot tall statue of Jesus that was erected outside of the Solid Rock Church only to burn down from a fire resulting from a lightning strike to the then-flammable monument.
Pre-lightning strike, the statue was given many nicknames, both affectionate and derisive, by local residents and travelers on I-75. Among the most popular, and surely the one that stuck, was “Touchdown Jesus.” This is in part due to the similarity to “The Word of Life” mural at the University of Notre Dame which was given the same nickname due to both work of arts’ similarities to the gesture American football referees use to signify a touchdown.
Although the enormous statue immediately gained attention from local residents and highway goers, it wasn’t until the statue was struck by lightning on June 14, 2010 that it gained national attention. The lightning strike resulted in a fire that engulfed the entire statue, consuming everything but the internal metal structure.
In the days following the fire Laurence Bishop, then pastor of Solid Rock, stated that the church planned to rebuild the statue with fireproof material. Less than a week after the destruction of the Jesus statue, the church’s digital sign displayed a propitious message: “He’ll be back.”
Although the statue cost around $250,000 to construct, it was insured for $500,000. The insurance money helped pay for the estimated $700,000 in damages that occurred to both the statue and the amphitheater.
Perhaps to avoid similar nicknames to “Touchdown Jesus,” the replacement statue was given a substantially different design.
Construction of the new statue, called “Lux Mundi” (or Light of the World), began in June 2012. Assembled on site on September 19, 2012, the King of Kings statue was finally replaced and dedicated eleven days later.
The new polymer composite and steel sculpture was mainly fabricated by Display Dynamics of Clayton, Ohio and incorporates fire-resistant materials including a lightning suppression system.
In the weeks following the replacement the new statue was given a new nickname, “Hug Me Jesus,” in reference to the pose and predecessor’s Touchdown Jesus nickname.