20 Things You Never Knew About the Super Bowl

This year's big game, Super Bowl LIV, between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs takes place in Miami on February 2. Every year the game and spectacle that comes with it offers something different and is a must-watch event—regardless if you enjoy football or not. Before you tune in on Sunday, check out these surprising facts about the Super Bowl.

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Super Stats About the Super Bowl


It’s as American as apple pie. Yet the Super Bowl has only been around since 1967. In those 53 years, however, the game has become ingrained in the national psyche. It has also developed some unusual rituals and over-the-top traditions. These little-known facts may win you victory too—at your next trivia night.

Women are Keeping Ratings Up


According to Forbes, it’s actually women who are keeping NFL ratings afloat. Data from TVision Insight defies the outmoded idea that women only enjoy ads and halftime shows. In fact, “women were over 27% more likely than men to be paying attention” to the game itself.

The First Super Bowl was a Flop


In 1967, tickets to the first Super Bowl (known then as the AFL-NFL World Championship Game) cost $12. Yet there were still more than 32,000 empty seats at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum—due in part to high ticket prices. Today, tickets can cost upwards of $4,000.

The Name was Inspired by a Child's Toy


Lamar Hunt, then owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, realized that “the AFL-NFL World Championship Game” was a mouthful and he was keen to find a more marketing-friendly name. Fortunately, his children’s “Super Ball” toy provided the answer. By the fourth game, “Super Bowl” was official.

The first halftime show featured jetpacks

Wikimedia Commons via Brian Allen/Voice of America

The first championship also featured two marching bands and 300 pigeons. The Super Bowl halftime show has since evolved into a full 30-minute extravaganza, and is the most-watched television event in America. The NFL claims that Super Bowl LI (2017), featuring Lady Gaga, had 150 million viewers across TV and digital platforms, making it the most-watched musical performance ever.

Players have their own halftime secrets


Perhaps in part because the Super Bowl halftime is about twice as long as the halftime of a normal game, players keep their own rituals to ensure victory. Some snack on sandwiches and fruit, to keep their energy up. Others pedal stationary bikes to keep their legs warm and ready for action. And of course, there’s a lot of pep talk—because winners have to believe.

DNA Ink Prevents Cheating


In total, 120 footballs are used in each Super Bowl game: 108 game balls, and an additional 12 kicker balls used for all kicking plays. Teams must present their 54 game balls for inspection on game day. DNA ink is then painted on the laces to prove their authenticity.

Every coin is special

Wikimedia Commons via Staff Sgt. Bradley Lail, USAF

Millions of dollars are wagered on the opening Super Bowl coin toss—but George Washington plays no part in the tradition. Instead of our first president, each coin bears the Vince Lombardi trophy, named in memory of former NFL head coach, on one side and the opposing teams’ logos on the other side. The Super Bowl coin is custom-made in the United States by The Highland Mint.

There are Definite Perks for Players and Family Too


Big companies offer perks to players and their families during Super Bowl season. Marlin Jackson of the Indiana Colts reports driving a Cadillac Escalade for a week before Super Bowl XLI. Some brands offer similar “free” gifts (and free advertising) to players’ families, ranging from luxury vehicle loans to hotel stays and fancy parties.

Every Detail is Super-Charged

Wikimedia Commons via Paul Keleher

Every detail of the championship is super-charged—literally. Ticket reseller Seat Geek reports that the average ticket price for Super Bowl LIV is $7,622. Tickets to star-studded Super Bowl parties can cost $2,000 and up. And Super Bowl ads are some of the most expensive television real estate in history; According to AdAge, a 30-second spot for this year’s game costs up to $5.6 million. 

Super Bowl Sunday is a Day to Indulge


Americans like to indulge in food and drink on Thanksgiving. But the big game goes neck-and-neck with Thanksgiving for the most food consumed on a single day—including 28,000,000 pounds of chips and 1.25 billion chicken wings.

The Team with the Most Wins

Wikimedia Commons via Royalbroil

The Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots have each won six Super Bowl championships, beating out the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers, who each have five wins—although the 49ers have the chance to join the Steelers and Patriots if they win this year’s Bowl. After defeating the Rams in 1980, the Steelers became the first team in NFL history to win four Super Bowls.

The Team with the Most Losses

Wikimedia Commons via Onetwo1

The New England Patriots are tied for the most Super Bowl wins and the most Super Bowl losses. The Patriots and the Denver Broncos, who have three Super Bowl wins, each have a record five losses. 

The Most Watched Game


Super Bowl XLI broadcast with 114.4 million viewers in the United States. In 2015, the New England Patriots beat the defending champions, the Seattle Seahawks. This earned the Patriots their fourth overall win—the first in 10 years.

Super Bowl Superstars

U.S. Pacific Command photo by Sgt. Sabrina Black/Released

It’s every professional football player’s dream to make it to the Super Bowl, and when it came to the big game some of these guys have had their best performances ever. Jerry Rice played in four Super Bowl games walking away with three rings and a MVP. He set the record for most touchdown catches and most points scored in Super Bowl history, according to CBS Sports. Tom Brady’s impressive career includes playing in the most Super Bowls (9) and having the most wins (6), surpassing Charles Haley, who won five Super Bowl rings with both the 49ers and the Cowboys.

It Pays to be a Loser Too


The salaries keep escalating. Super Bowl winners took home $112,000 per player in 2018, while the losing team pocketed $56,000 each. This means that a losing player’s Super Bowl game earnings is nearly equal to the median American’s annual income of $59,000.

It’s Not Only Americans Who Watch


The Super Bowl is broadcast in 34 languages and watched around the world. Based on statistics compiled by GlobalWebIndex, it is estimated that Mexico trails the United States in the number of NFL fans, followed by Brazil, Canada, South Korea, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Super Bowl 50 Broke with Tradition

Flickr via Ken Walton

2016’s Super Bowl 50 was the first and only game to be marketed without Roman numerals. The Roman numerals were originally adopted to distinguish the games from the calendar year, and to make them more “magisterial,” according to Kansas City Chiefs historian Bob Moore.

Those Rings Have Power


Super Bowl rings have been crafted for the victors since the first game in 1967. The earliest rings look similar to class signet rings but over time, they have become increasingly more expensive and diamond-studded. Each team secures about 150 rings per victory.

How Much is that Trophy Worth?

Wikimedia Commons via andrewtat94

The Lombardi Trophy costs $50,000 thanks to Tiffany & Co.’s master craftsmanship. Made of sterling silver, it takes four months to complete and weighs an impressive seven pounds. It ranks among the most expensive sports trophy in history, according to Investopedia.

Do you know about “Service Bowl”?

U.S. Navy photos by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Andrea Perez

Millions of dollars are bet on Super Bowl Sunday, but it’s not only money that exchanges hands—and changes lives. The mayors of Super Bowl teams’ home cities have each wagered a day of volunteer service in the winner’s city—a tradition now known as “Service Bowl.”

A Fresh Perspective


You’ll never look at the Big Game the same way again.