The Super Bowl happens every year at the end of February and it’s one of the most-watched television events of the year, but if you’re not really into football, you might not be all that familiar with what exactly happens during the big game. Here are seven facts about the Super Bowl that you might not know, but should.
1) Football is America's most popular sport
One in four American adults say they're avid fans of professional football. That's over 70 million people, which equates to over 25% of all Americans. Football's popularity transcends age groups: You may think most football fans are older men, but that's not true at all. According to Gallup, nearly 40% of millennials say they're avid fans of pro football—which is 10 percentage points higher than non-millennials. For a sport that gets a lot of (unfair) flak for being more violent than other sports, it seems young people have still embraced it wholeheartedly.
2) How a Kid’s Toy Inspired the Name
On June 8, 1966, the merger of the two professional American football leagues, the National Football League (NFL) and the American Football League (AFL), was announced. It produced what was then called, "AFL-NFL World Championship Game" where champions from either leagues played against each other to determine which had the best team.
Lamar Hunt, the businessman who owns AFL's Kansas City Chiefs, is believed to be the one who coined the term "Super Bowl" since during the merger meetings, it's what he would use to refer to the game. Moreover, big college games were starting to use "Bowl" as a suffix such as the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, etc.
It might have been stuck in his head because at that time, his kids enjoyed a toy called a Super Ball. Even though Hunt was kidding and he thought the term could be improved, the media was quick to pick up on the term. Hence, the name became official after Super Bowl III in 1969.
3) Most Memorable Super Bowl Games Over the History
Super Bowl III (1969)
New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7
First game that officially carries what we now know as the "Super Bowl" and is among the greatest disappointments in sports history. The heavy underdog New York Jets (11-3) overcame the National Football League (NFL) champion Baltimore Colts (13-1) by a score of 16–7 in the Super Bowl. This is known to be the first Super Bowl triumph for the AFL.
Super Bowl XIII (1979)
Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31
The Steelers would become the first team in Super Bowl history to win three championships, thanks to Bradshaw's 318 yards and four touchdowns passing, both of which were Super Bowl records. In the National Football League championship game, he was named most valuable player, and his club reclaimed American Conference supremacy against the National.
Super Bowl XXV (1991)
New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19
The New York Giants defeated the Buffalo Bills 20-19 at Tampa Stadium, capping a weird, anxious week marked by fears of terrorism and the Persian Gulf War. The Giants won their second Super Bowl in five years thanks to a failed field goal by the Bills.
Super Bowl XLIX (2015)
New England Patriots 28, Seattle Seahawks 24
Although a snoozer for one half of a game, it made for an ending filled with excitement. Tom Brady, the NFL's most famous player, guided the Patriots to four touchdowns, and while he did turn the ball over, the interceptions were more due to good Seahawks defense plays than to Brady throwing terrible passes. With 28 seconds left, Malcolm Butler's interception at the 1-yard line clinched the Patriots' victory.
Super Bowl LI (2017)
Patriots 34, Falcons 28
Tom Brady accomplished one of the best comebacks not just in Super Bowl history but in sports history, when he rallied the Patriots from a 25-point deficit to win the game's first overtime Super Bowl. No team had previously been able to overcome a 10-point deficit to win the game!
4) Food Stands Out
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Thanksgiving Day is followed by the Super Bowl as the 2nd day where Americans eat more than the average day. Over 200 million chicken wings have been consumed at US Super Bowl parties in 2018. That’s enough to fill more than 50 Boeing 747s (the plane type that traditionally holds 450 passengers). And if they were laid end-to-end, they would stretch from California to Rhode Island. So next time you see a food vendor on TV or at a local event, know that what you’re eating isn’t just chicken wings—it’s tradition! Other top food choices on Super Bowl are chips and dips, pizza, nachos, cheese, cookies, and burgers and you can wash them all down with beer, wine spirits, or cocktails.
5) Halftime Show Rocks
The Super Bowl is not just about football anymore ever since the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, redefined the Halftime Show when he stood frozen for more than a minute and captured the audience with a medley of his hits. It has since then featured a number of spectacular performances, such as Paul McCartney (2005), The Rolling Stones (2006), The Black Eyed Peas (2011), Beyoncé (2013) and Lady Gaga (2017). The greatest halftime show performed to date according to Vulture and Rolling Stone was that of Prince in the 2007 Super Bowl XLI which was performed in the middle of a thunderstorm in Miami. It was an iconic rock & roll performance that set the bar high for Halftime Shows in the years to come.
Katy Perry performed the highest-rated halftime show to date in 2015. A then-record 118.5 million viewers tuned in for her live broadcast. Meanwhile, the most-viewed show on YouTube was the critically acclaimed performance of Jennifer Lopez and Shakira who proudly celebrated the Latinx culture while tackling issues on the border crisis.
6) Finding an Affordable Way to Attend is Harder Than Ever
Want to attend one of the sport’s biggest events? Well, that’s easier said than done. Prices for tickets for the Super Bowl have skyrocketed. In 2022, top-tier tickets (not including taxes and fees) can set you back starting $2,882 (SeatGeek) to $180,000 (Ticketmaster). But if you want to watch from home, even a 30-second ad costs over $5 million. The craziest part? Many viewers don’t think it’s worth it. A whopping 58% of viewers don’t even care who wins—they just want to be entertained! Since it can be hard to attend the Super Bowl live, look out for watch parties hosted by your friends or local pubs. You can also host your own watch party.
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