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SIDELINES: Is it me or is everything bigger at the Super Bowl?
Unless you are literally living under a rock, you know that the Super Bowl is taking place Sunday.
Super Sunday is the culmination of a long season of watching football and a chance for Americans to gorge themselves on chicken wings, queso dip and Bud Light. It’s perfect.
But it wasn’t always like that. The phenomenon that is now the Super Bowl isn’t really that old of a thing. The actual name, Super Bowl, didn’t materialize until 1969 when Joe Namath and the New York Jets upset the Baltimore Colts.
The first two contests were called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game. The name Super Bowl supposedly came from Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, who took it in part from the then-popular Super Ball kids toy.
Super Bowl Sunday, which is now unofficially a national holiday in the U.S., will honestly have nothing to do with the football game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers. Analysts are expecting 115 million viewers to tune in and pretend like they are watching the game, but are really watching the commercials.
If those numbers come to fruition, it will be the most-watched television show in history. In fact, eight of the top 10 shows of all time are Super Bowls. The only stragglers are the series finales of M*A*S*H and Cheers.
It’s so ridiculously huge that a 30-second commercial Sunday will cost an advertiser $4 million. The Super Bowl is so big that companies are now releasing teasers of their commercials ahead of game day, like they are Hollywood blockbuster movies or something.
In years past, advertisers guarded their commercials for game day with secrecy usually saved for Jason Bourne documents.
About half of the 30 Super Bowl advertisers have teasers this year, according to the Associated Press. That number is up from 10 in 2012. The online teaser has been one of the top new trends for Super Bowl commercials in recent years.
More evidence about how big the Super Bowl has gotten in recent years can be tracked to the stars performing during halftime of the football game.
That might be where things have changed the most during the 47-year history of the Super Bowl.
During seven of the first eight Super Bowls, college marching bands actually provided halftime entertainment.
Some of those bands were even joined by celebrities during their performances. Who, you might ask? During halftime of Super Bowl VIII in Houston, the University of Texas Band was joined by Judy Mallett (reigning Miss Texas 1973), who played the fiddle.
During halftime of Super Bowl IV in 1970, fans were mesmerized by the vocal stylings of Broadway actress Carol Channing, who paid tribute to Mardi Gras. Things didn’t get much better in 1973 when jazz clarinetist, saxophonist and big band leader Woody Herman accompanied the University of Michigan Band in an extravaganza titled, “Happiness Is.”
It’s a far cry from what goes on at halftime now, which includes the biggest stars in the world. Just look at the acts that have taken the stage in the past 10 years. Acts like U2, Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson (wardrobe malfunction), Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, The Who and Madonna have performed.
Aside from commercials and halftime entertainment, here are a few more facts about how big the Super Bowl has gotten:
• An estimated 49.3 million cases of beer were sold during last year’s Super Bowl Sunday.
• An estimated $10 billion was wagered on the 2012 Super Bowl, and that is just in the legal sense. How much more was bet on Super Bowl boards at your average party?
• Pizza Hut, Papa John’s and Domino’s combined to sell roughly 4 million pizzas during the 2012 Super Bowl. It’s the biggest day of the year for pizza sales.
• On the Monday following the Super Bowl, on average, 6 percent of the workforce calls out sick and the sale of antacids goes up by nearly 20 percent.
• The toilet is flushed more times during halftime of the Super Bowl than at any other time of the year.
• The average number of people at any given Super Bowl party is 17.
• Americans will spend more than $50 million on food during the four days prior to the Super Bowl.