Boy meets girl while she’s in the midst of a record-breaking world tour. Girl falls for boy, showing up to his football games and driving TV ratings, attendance and merchandise sales in the process. Boy’s team overcomes a bumpy season to win the AFC championship game. And the two, wearing matching bracelets, steal the spotlight with their embrace on the field.
Now boy’s team is headed to its fourth Super Bowl in five years. And people are betting not only on who will win, but how often girl — who has since been named Time person of the year — will be shown in the stands (assuming she can get there in time).
The romance of Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce sounds like something straight out of a Hollywood movie — not to mention a huge win for the Kansas City Chiefs and the NFL itself. It’s created a legion of new football fans while also fueling PR stunt accusations and right-wing conspiracy theories, including that the league scripted their relationship to boost views.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell laughed off the notion at his pre-Super Bowl press conference on Monday, replying that “I don’t think I’m that good a scripter, or anybody on our staff.” But he was quick to acknowledge the positive impact Swift has had on the season.
“Obviously, it creates a buzz. It creates another group of young fans, particularly young women that are interested in seeing, ‘Why is she going to this game? Why is she interested in this game?’” Gooddell said. “Besides Travis, she is a football fan, and I think that’s great for us.”
The numbers say so too. Swift’s association with Kelce has generated an equivalent brand value of $331.5 million for the Kansas City Chiefs and the NFL, as of late January, according to Apex Marketing Group.
President Eric Smallwood told NPR that the figure is likely to grow, since it’s from before the Chiefs’ championship victory — which drew more than 55 million viewers to become the most-watched AFC title game in NFL history.
While there have been influential celebrity sports couples before, Smallwood says he’s never seen anything like this.
“It’s taking entertainment and mixing it with the top sport in the U.S., now with the top event of the year, viewing audience-wise,” Smallwood said. “It’s a phenomenon. It’s the Taylor effect for sure.”