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New dad Cam Newton surprises fans with Father’s Day shopping help

Cam Newton will celebrate his first Father’s Day Sunday. And on Thursday, he spent the evening at a south Charlotte Target store surprising young fans with help buying their dads gifts for the holiday.

Notoriously a kid-at-heart, the Carolina Panthers quarterback spent the hour perusing the aisles with young shoppers and chatting about their dads, their weekend plans, his insatiable sweet tooth and lots else except football. He also talked about his off-season activities, as well as his signature celebration dance.

“Being a new father and all, I could help you out from a father’s perspective,” Newton told 7-year-old Owen Bex of Charlotte, who ended up going with Newton’s recommendation of a gas grill for Father’s Day.

Arriving in an unassuming flannel shirt paired with a white foxtail, his signature fashion accessory, Newton acted as a personal shopper for three unsuspecting families at the Stonecrest store, helping to pick out a FitBit and Beats by Dre, among other items.

Spending on Father’s Day gifts across the U.S. is expected to reach a record-high this year, with shoppers spending an average of $125.92, according to the National Retail Federation. The lucky shoppers with Newton didn’t have to worry about that though -- the retailer treated them with gift cards to cover their purchases.

Jennica Shelton of Fort Mill was with her wide-eyed 7-year-old son Miller at Target Thursday night when the two were randomly picked to shop with Newton. Miller’s one of four boys, and said they, along with his father, will be jealous of his experience. “Sundays were it in our house this season,” Jennica said.

Newton’s own son, Chosen Sebastian, was born on Christmas Eve to Newton and his longtime girlfriend, Kia Proctor. After the shopping spree, Newton said it was “up to the others” to decide how to spend Father’s Day.

“I have no idea,” he said. “I’m really low maintenance.”

Aside from surprising fans, Newton’s been busy building up his off-the-field profile in other areas.

The quarterback spent the much of his off season filming his new Nickelodeon show “All In with Cam Newton,” which premiered earlier this month. The series includes 20 half-hour episodes featuring Newton helping kids chase their dreams.

“I was very curious to see the response, when people realized how involved I was -- not just a cameo here or there,” Newton said Thursday. “It was extremely hard work for me, just to be on the set and learning the nuances of film life. Going back over it again, doing this line again because of an airplane going by.”

On top of that, over the last year, Newton’s added $12 million in endorsement deals from brands such as Dannon, Under Armour, Gatorade and Beats by Dre. Those, combined with his estimated salary of $53.1 million, have helped launch Newton to the status of seventh highest-paid athlete in the world, according to Forbes.

Newton, the reigning NFL MVP, told members of the media earlier Thursday that he still “hasn’t climaxed as a player,” despite leading the Panthers to a franchise-best record last season and to the team’s second-ever Super Bowl appearance.

On Thursday, Newton also clarified that the dab, the celebratory dance he made famous last season, isn’t actually dead. He’s just “looking for more options.”

“It has been a good run for it, (but) I’m not saying I'm not gonna do it,” Newton said.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta