Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike McFadden’s first broadcast TV ad blossomed into what some in social media circles dubbed “groin gate.”

The ad, which debuted last Monday, features McFadden coaching young boys in football. One of the boys says, “Now Coach McFadden is the one running.” Another says, “Spending has to be stopped” and “Obamacare needs to be sacked.”

Then, McFadden shouts to the junior huddle, “Let’s go out and hit somebody!” After that, a little boy apparently goes for McFadden in a tackle and hits him below the waist. McFadden’s voice rises about six notches, and he concludes the ad with “I’m Mike McFadden and I approve this message,” in the high-pitched voice.

The ad sparked chatter on Twitter that it featured a hit to the groin in the Republican’s first major ad buy — said to be in the six figures — of the campaign. But McFadden campaign spokesman Tom Erickson denied the below-the-belt hit, saying it was a hit to the gut. He said McFadden’s high-pitched voice came from having the wind knocked out of him.

The young football players are real participants in the Mendota Heights Youth Athletic Association. McFadden is running in the August GOP primary to challenge DFL Sen. Al Franken in November.

Allison Sherry and Rachel E. Stassen-Berger