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Earnhardt Jr. returns to Columbus after large donation to Nationwide Children's Hospital

(WSYX/WTTE)

COLUMBUS -- Nationwide Insurance spokeman Dale Earnhardt Junior returned to Central Ohio this week on the heels of a big gift to Children's Hospital.

Earnhardt was at Nationwide Arena Tuesday night to drop the ceremonial puck before the Blue Jackets game against New Jersey. His fans followed his every move onto the main concourse where he joined the Fox Sports Ohio pregame show.

As for his legions of fans, "you never get used to it. You never lose that sense of being overwhelmed by their loyalty. It's meant a lot to me."

Earnhardt and his wife Amy demonstrated their commitment to charity with the creation of the Dale and Amy Earnhardt Fund at Nationwide Children's Hospital. Dale's foundation contributed $88,888.88 to honor his racing fans, while Nationwide added $800,000 for a total of $888,888.88.

Nationwide and Dale Jr. officially teamed up in 2009, but it was a connection a long time in the making. The partnership was an extension of his family’s longtime relationship with Nationwide off the track – the Earnhardt family has trusted Nationwide for their insurance needs for more than 35 years. Dale Jr. has continued that relationship with his own 25-year relationship trusting Nationwide to protect everything from his cars to his house to his business and even his dog, Gus.

In September of 2014, Nationwide announced an agreement with Hendrick Motorsports to become the majority primary sponsor for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 car for 21 races in each of the 2015-2017 seasons. In the past two years, Dale Jr. and the No. 88 tallied 3 race wins, 21 top-5 and 28 top-10 finishes in 54 NASCAR Cup Series starts. Nationwide takes great pride in being able to protect the things that matter most to Dale Jr., his family and his team, and showing his fans that Nationwide is on your side.

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