Taylor Swift-Travis Kelce relationship could create ‘superstorm of fandom’ bridging pop star, NFL bases
Musical sensation Taylor Swift and the NFL are two of the biggest cultural phenomena in the United States. When they crashed together this week, it blew up both the internet and one player’s jersey sales, and possibly brought in a whole new group of fans to the already popular league.
Swift has been selling out NFL stadiums all year with her wildly successful “Eras Tour,” but she was one of the people in the seats for a change when she showed up at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. Swift cheered on the Kansas City Chiefs amid speculation she and star tight end Travis Kelce have become a couple; she watched the game in a box alongside Kelce’s mother and her excited reactions during the game went viral.
Kelce caught a touchdown pass in front of Swift – she could be seen yelling “Let’s f—ing go!” – as the defending Super Bowl champions routed the Chicago Bears, 41-10. The two were later seen leaving together, and the rumor mill has buzzed nonstop since about whether the two are an item. Some NFL fans have also grumbled in comment sections that they’ve had just about enough of Swift already, but that’s another story.
“The merging of Taylor and Travis has the potential to create a superstorm of fandom that crosses music, sports and Gen Z / millennial females who hold spending power into the billions,” pop culture expert Amy Palmer told FOX News Digital. “If the Taylor / Travis relationship continues you can be sure to see young women buying tickets to games, purchasing Travis apparel and becoming invested in Travis as a brand, athlete and personality.”
Kelce is considered one of the greatest tight ends of all time and his media appearances in commercials and on shows like “Saturday Night Live” have made him one of the more recognizable athletes in the country.
But call it the “Swift effect”; the Associated Press reported his jersey saw an astonishing 400% spike in sales in the aftermath of the game, according to a spokesperson for sportswear and fan merchandise company Fanatics.
“Taylor Swift is one of the biggest stars in the world, and has mastered the art of not only connecting with her fanbase, but keeping herself relevant as a brand,” Gerald Longo, founder at Underground Music Collective, told FOX News Digital. “Those fans will follow her anywhere she goes, and the general public’s curiosity surrounding cultural icons will make headline news out of something as simple as Taylor watching an NFL game from a press box.”
“Popular music often takes the cultural institution of the NFL, and broadens its reach to the public. For example, the Super Bowl Halftime Show attracts new audiences every year by featuring popular acts whose music often differs from the tastes of the average football fan,” Longo added. “I expect a similar phenomenon here; Taylor’s association with the NFL is bound to bring new eyes to the on-field product, and has already had a major positive impact on Travis Kelce’s jersey sales.”
Swift’s mere presence on Sunday made the regular-season clash more than just a typical game. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was asked about the possibly budding relationship during his postgame interview. Cameras caught players pointing up at her in the private box with astonished reactions. Instagram, X and TikTok abounded with memes and jokes about the pair.
FOX Sports also announced it was the most-watched telecast of any network, scoring more than 24 million viewers across all platforms, an eye-popping number for a non-playoff game. It also was No. 1 among key female age demographics.
The NFL even updated its X account profile to simply say “NFL (Taylor’s Version),” a reference to her re-recording much of her old albums following a public dispute with her former record label.
Whether she’ll bring new permanent fans to the league is another thing entirely, but there’s no doubting it’s had a short-term impact.
“I think what’s for certain is that her attending NFL games could have a normalizing effect on the sport for her fans,” marketing expert Marcus Collins told FOX News Digital. “That is to say, by Taylor potentially attending more games in the future, it could signal that this consumption is acceptable for people like her. This new behavior will cause an exogenous shock to the system that could influence her fans to legitimate the behavior and act in concert as an identity congruence strategy. It’s this sort of cultural contagion that introduces new ideas to new populations and, ultimately, sway collective consumption.”
Kelce invited Swift to the game amid public speculation the two were dating. It remains unclear what the status of their relationship is, and while many “Swifties” are following the latest relationship news of their idol with fervor, some NFL fans may just be rolling their eyes.
Swift is on hiatus from the “Eras Tour” before the international segment begins in November. A report last month projected it could gross more than $2 billion in North American ticket sales alone.
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