The 1996 King of the Ring tournament saw Austin's first usage of "Austin 3:16", the major marketing juggernaut for the WWF during the era. After winning the tournament by defeating Jake Roberts, Austin mocked Roberts' recital of the biblical passage John 3:16 by saying, "You sit there and you thump your Bible, and you say your prayers, and it didn't get you anywhere! Talk about your Psalms, talk about John 3:16... Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass."
Austin's popularity skyrocketed as an anti-hero despite his playing a heel character, eventually leading to a long feud with Bret Hart from late 1996 to mid-1997 climaxing into a Submission Match at WrestleMania 13 with Austin turning face. During an interview in 1997, Austin hit the Stone Cold Stunner on McMahon. This laid the foundation for the later feud between Austin and McMahon, the central storyline of the Attitude Era.