Fact Check: The Truth Behind Claims Harrison Butker's Mom is a Physicist

Theonewhoknowsnothingatall/Wikimedia Commons
Theonewhoknowsnothingatall/Wikimedia Commons


Football player Harrison Butker — who said at a graduation speech the majority of graduating women are “most excited” about marriage and children — has a mother who is a medical physicist.


Rating: True
Rating: True

On May 11, 2024, Kansas City Chiefs kicker and 3-time Super Bowl champion Harrison Butker, generated controversy over his commencement speech at Benedictine College. In the speech, he rebuked U.S. President Joe Biden for being a Catholic who supports abortion rights, critiqued "degenerative cultural values and media," called on women to focus on marriage, and told graduating men to fight against the "cultural emasculation of men."

At the same time, many online pointed out that Butker's own mother had a career as a physicist. A TikTok user stated in a video, "I just wonder if his mom agrees" and described her purported credentials as a physicist with degrees from Smith College and Georgia Institute of Technology.

Elizabeth Butker is a medical physicist at Emory University's Winship Cancer Institute, according to an article on the university's website and its faculty pages. We thus rate this claim as "True."

In a January 2020 article on Emory's website, Harrison Butker is pictured with his mother:

Winship medical physicist Elizabeth Keller Butker, MS, DABR has a special reason to watch the Super Bowl this year. Her son, Harrison Butker, a record-setting field goal kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs, will go head-to-head with the San Francisco 49ers in the sports event of the year, Super Bowl LIV, on February 2.

Harrison Butker's connection to Winship starts with his grandfather James W. Keller, MD, who held an appointment in the Winship Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology for 13 years and the Winship Department of Radiation Oncology for 15 years. Keller has since retired from Winship and currently serves as Emeritus Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology.

Inspired by her father's career, [Elizabeth] Butker joined Winship in 1988 where she specializes in brachytherapy and Gamma Knife medical physics care.

Elizabeth Butker's profile is available on the Emory University School of Medicine's website, which lists her many research articles, as well as her position as a radiation oncology physicist in the Department of Radiation Oncology. She is also listed in the medical physics faculty staff directory.

A LinkedIn profile for "Elizabeth Keller Butker" states she received her bachelor's degree in chemistry from Smith College, and a master's degree in medical physics from Georgia Institute of Technology.

In his speech at Benedictine College, Harrison Butker praised his wife for being a homemaker, and called on women to focus on family:

For the ladies present today, congratulations on an amazing accomplishment. You should be proud of all that you have achieved to this point in your young lives. I want to speak directly to you briefly because I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolical lies told to you. How many of you are sitting here now about to cross this stage and are thinking about all the promotions and titles you are going to get in your career? Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world, but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world.

I can tell you that my beautiful wife, Isabelle, would be the first to say that her life truly started when she began living her vocation as a wife and as a mother. I'm on the stage today and able to be the man I am because I have a wife who leans into her vocation. I'm beyond blessed with the many talents God has given me, but it cannot be overstated that all of my success is made possible because a girl I met in band class back in middle school would convert to the faith, become my wife, and embrace one of the most important titles of all: homemaker.

This is not the first time Butker has espoused such views. In 2023, he spoke at the Georgia Institute of Technology, when he told graduates he was raised in a family of "overachievers" and urged graduates to "get married" and "start a family." He criticized "identity politics," saying it "caused us to look at one another through a prism of hate and lack of respect for the human person. It seems the days of seeing the value of others may be gone, understanding that all people have innate value bestowed upon them by the Creator."

The NFL has since said they do not agree with Butker's views. Jonathan Beane, the NFL's senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer, told People magazine on May 16, 2024, "Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity. His views are not those of the NFL as an organization. The NFL is steadfast in our commitment to inclusion, which only makes our league stronger."


"Elizabeth Butker." Emory School of Medicine. https://med.emory.edu/departments/radiation-oncology/profile/?u=EBUTKER. Accessed 17 May 2024.

"Faculty Directory." Emory School of Medicine. https://med.emory.edu/departments/radiation-oncology/directory/index.html#1/Radiation%20Oncology. Accessed 17 May 2024.

"Full Text: Harrison Butker of Kansas City Chiefs Graduation Speech." NCR, 16 May 2024, https://www.ncregister.com/news/harrison-butker-speech-at-benedictine. Accessed 17 May 2024.

"Harrison Butker | Commencement Address 2024. Benedictine College, 2024. YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JS7RIKSaCc. Accessed 17 May 2024.

"Harrison Butker Urged Graduates to 'Get Married and Start a Family' During Georgia Tech Speech Last Year." People, https://people.com/harrison-butker-made-controversial-comments-2023-graduation-speech-georgia-institute-technology-8649591. Accessed 17 May 2024.

"NFL Says They Do Not Agree with Harrison Butker's 'Views' in Graduation Speech, Are Committed to 'Inclusion.'" People. https://people.com/harrison-butker-nfl-does-not-share-views-in-graduation-speech-8649229. Accessed 17 May 2024.

"Super Bowl Kicker Has Deep Ties to Emory." Emory University. https://news.emory.edu/stories/2020/01/winship_super_bowl_kicker_butker_family_ties/index.html. Accessed 17 May 2024.