The Super Bowl is a national holiday, the peak of the football and betting seasons. It’s a time to gather, watch the game and attendant advertisements, talk trash, make friendly wagers, drink, eat, and cheer the action on the field. This year for the first time, we can expect Taylor Swift to be the leading cheerleader; she has a dog in the fight.
In Super Bowl LVIII this Sunday, the San Fransisco 49ers will play the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are the defending champions, having beaten the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35 on February 12, 2023. Super Bowl LIV in February 2020 also pitted the Chiefs against 49ers and the Chiefs won. In a sense, this game is a replay — except much has changed, betting on the game for example.
Super Bowl LVII was the first to be played in a state where gambling on sports was legal. Forbes magazine estimated that 50 million Americans wagered $16 billion on that Super Bowl. The estimate might have been inflated, as only $9 billion was wagered for the entire month of February 2023. Estimates are often inflated to make a point, based as they are on suppositions that are impossible to verify, such as the amount of money wagered illegally, in sports pools, and among friends. Of course, it is safe to say that many people bet on that game. However, this year, the Super Bowl is in Las Vegas, Sin City.
Not only is it legal to bet on sports in Nevada, but Las Vegas is the gambling capital of the nation, as well as its party city. Nearly 400,000 visitors will be in Las Vegas for the game. Wherever those people stay, there will be parties and opportunities to make bets, lots of bets; the Westgate Superbook has 500 propositions to tempt the bettors. Caesars has 800. The flip of the coin, the color of the Gatorade dumped on the winning coach, and anything else that can be imagined are propositions upon which a person can make a wager. There is, however, one bet you will not find: “Will Taylor Swift be at the game?” That is official, according to the Associated Press.
Another difference between Super Bowl LVIII and all the others is the change in focus in the media narrative. Ms. Swift has stolen the scene, as they say. Taylor has been at many Chiefs’ games this year to support her boyfriend, KC tight end Travis Kelce. Drafted in 2013, Kelce has been key player in the team’s offense, with 11,300 yards and 70 touchdowns in 10 years. Kelce has been an important part of the team’s narrative all along, but this year he leaped ahead of everything and became part of a two-person team that controlled the narrative: “The Taylor and Travis Story.”
Taylor came to games, jumped up and down, and cheered. Every move, every cheer, was captured by the media and transmitted to the world. The Swift-Kelce embrace at the end of the conference championship game last Sunday became an occasion not to be missed by the Chiefs’ fans or the Swifties. But it was not her first rodeo. Tay Tay, as she is called, was a musical legend and an icon long before the first time she kissed a tight end and gave the game a new meaning. Time magazine named Taylor Swift person of the year for 2023.
“Her epic career-retrospective tour recounting her artistic ‘eras,’ which played 66 dates across the Americas this year, is projected to become the biggest of all time and the first to gross over a billion dollars; analysts talked about the ‘Taylor effect,’ as politicians from Thailand, Hungary, and Chile implored her to play their countries. Cities, stadiums, and streets were renamed for her. Every time she came to a new place, a mini economic boom took place as hotels and restaurants saw a surge of visitors.”
The English newspaper The Guardian proclaimed Swift a newsmaker. According to The Guardian, “The Taylor Swift beat now stretches beyond the Guardian’s arts and culture department to many teams across the newsroom, including politics, sports, and technology.” She is beyond popular: 4.35 million tickets were sold for her Eras Tour, generating $1.04 billion. The total economic impact of her tour was estimated at $5 billion. Her presence at Chiefs’ game is said to have increased the sale of team memorabilia by $330 million.
That will make Super Bowl LVIII unique. The game is being played in the very heart of sports betting country. And more important, the entire event will be enhanced by the presence of an economic powerhouse – Taylor Swift. Regardless of which team wins on the playing field, the winner of the game will be Taylor Swift.