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Big Game, Big Numbers: 10 Facts About the Super Bowl

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In just a few days, millions of Americans will gather around their television sets and watch the New England Patriots and New York Giants suit up for Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.

Unless you’ve been under the proverbial rock, you know that the Super Bowl is a big deal—a really big deal. The halftime show. The pre-show entertainment. The multi-million-dollar commercials.

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When it comes to an event this big, the casual observer might wonder what all the hoopla is about. Well, we’re here to help. Here’s a brief list of 10 things you might not know about the big game:

  • The audience: 111 million people tuned into last year’s Super Bowl between Green Bay and Pittsburgh, making it the most-watched television program in history. The game passed the 2010 Super Bowl, which had eclipsed the viewing record held by the M*A*S*H finale, which had held the top spot for 27 years.

  • The tickets: Want tickets? You need money—a lot of money. The Super Bowl is one of the hardest tickets in sports, mainly because the NFL only distributes a limited number of tickets through an annual, random drawing. Most tickets are sold through online brokers—and they cost serious cash. Currently, the cheapest individual ticket available through one popular online broker is $2,300.

  • The commercials: The only thing that costs more than a ticket to the Super Bowl is an advertisement during the big game. One 30-second ad in last year’s game cost around $3 million. That’s $100,000 per second!

  • The security: Since the September 11 attacks, the game has been designated as a National Special Security Event by the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security. This simply means that the Super Bowl has even more of a security presence than most NFL games. Plus, no blimps allowed. Sorry, Goodyear.

  • The name: Former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle originally wanted to refer to the game as “The Big One.” But another NFL bigwig, Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, coined the term “Super Bowl” after he watched his kids play with a toy bouncy ball known as a “Super Ball.” Hunt suggested the name as a temporary one until they could think of something better, but—as you now know—the name stuck.

  • The food: According to the USDA, Super Bowl Sunday is second only to Thanksgiving in food consumption in one day. Which raises the question … how much weight is it possible to gain in 24 hours? On Super Bowl Sunday, many people find out.

  • The weather: When it comes to choosing a Super Bowl location, the NFL has a major rule: warm weather, please. For most of its history, the NFL has said that it won’t award the game to cities that have an average temperature below 50 degrees unless the city has an indoor stadium. The league recently ignored the rule when it awarded the 2014 Super Bowl to New Jersey’s new Meadowlands Stadium—the home of the Giants and the Jets. Bundle up.

  • The halftime shows: In the early years, the halftime entertainment was simply a college marching band. The show then evolved into a group of different acts sharing the stage. In 1993, Michael Jackson was the first solo act to perform the entire halftime show. And in 2002, U2 performed one of the most memorable halftimes with their tribute to the September 11 victims. The halftime show has not always gone without controversy—just ask Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake.

  • The ring: The league pays for 150 rings to go to the winning team, typically featuring gold and diamonds and valued in the neighborhood of $5,000 each. Who has won the most rings? Neal Dahlen won five rings on staff with the San Francisco 49ers and two rings as the general manager of the Denver Broncos. On the player side of things, Charles Haley won the most rings (five)—two with San Francisco and three with Dallas.

  • The records: The Super Bowl has had its fair share of exciting moments and games. But there are a lot of things that have never happened in the game. To name a few: a shutout, overtime, a punt return touchdown, snow, an offensive play over 90 yards and a matchup between two wildcard teams.

Enjoy this year’s game. And if you’re one of those crazy people paying $2,300 for a ticket, you’d better be using cash!

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