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Will Taylor Swift dominate football’s greatest stage?

All eyes may not be on the field at Super Bowl LVIII. A web of rumors and conspiracies are swirling around this year’s game.
Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift with boyfriend Travis Kelce following the AFC Championship game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Baltimore Ravens on Jan. 28. Photo: The Associated Press

The Kansas City Chiefs will face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas on Sunday.

But the real star of the game might be Taylor Swift.

The record-breaking, Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, who dates Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce and often goes to watch him play, is scheduled to perform four dates of her Eras Tour in Tokyo right before the big game. The internet lit up guessing whether she would make it back in time. The consensus now is that she will be in Las Vegas, with even the Embassy of Japan weighing in on her travels.

But the intrigue does not stop there.

After a recent article in The New York Times reported that conservatives on Fox News were in an uproar saying that the superstar may endorse President Joe Biden (as she did in 2020) for reelection, a conspiracy theory emerged. This theory holds that Swift and her boyfriend are part of a secret Pentagon psychological operation, or “psyop,” to deliver the 2024 presidential election to Biden. There is also conjecture that the NFL rigged this year’s playoffs to get the Chiefs and Kelce—and Swift—to the big game.

The internet is in a tizzy over this.

All this does not surprise Joseph Uscinski, a professor of political science at the University of Miami College of Arts and Sciences—and an expert on conspiracy theories.

“It is getting media attention because it involves a high-profile politician, a football star, and one of the biggest entertainers in the world,” said Uscinski. “Similar theories have gotten attention over the years, whether it is that Beyoncé is in the Illuminati or that Tom Hanks and Hillary Clinton eat babies for magical powers.”

He emphasized that conspiracy theories have been around since the beginning of time.

“In the 1960s, many people theorized that Beatle Paul McCartney was dead and in the 1980s many people theorized that Elvis was still alive,” he said.

Uscinski also believes that mainstream media, social media, and partisan media all work to heighten the spread of conspiracy theories.

“The media is responsible for giving so much attention to it,” he said. “But, once that starts everyone gets in on it, because now it is a ‘story,’ and there are clicks to be had. Sometimes people just like to say stuff, and that is what social media is for. But, it is the mainstream media and partisan commentators who really give it life.”

Once a conspiracy theory catches on then it can “bring likes, reshares, and attention, which some people on social media crave,” Uscinski said.

“For the commentators and journalists writing about it now, they are looking for the same thing: to bring in clicks and attention with an entertaining story,” he added.

What is not a conspiracy theory is the value that a Swift visit to a football game has.

Since she started attending Kansas City Chiefs games—she made it to 12 games this season and the Super Bowl will be her 13th (her favorite number)—Swift is estimated to have generated an equivalent brand value of $331.5 million for the Chiefs and the NFL, according to Apex Marketing Group.

News reports also say that the pop star led the NFL to its highest regular season viewership among women since it began tracking the demographic in 2000.

The megastar’s fanbase is enormous and loyal.

Swifts’ appearance at the Oct. 1 Sunday night game between the Chiefs and New York Jets resulted in a viewership of 27 million people, the most since the previous Super Bowl, according to Forbes. Her presence also led to a spike in the sales of her beau’s No. 87 jersey—a sales spike of 400 percent.

One other worry for conservatives is that Swift’s popularity is such that an Instagram post by her about voter registration helped register more than 35,000 new voters on National Voter Registration Day last year—many of them young voters. This led the star to say: "I've heard you raise your voices, and I know how powerful they are. Make sure you're ready to use them in our elections this year!"

As Swift sings in her hit song, “… Ready for It?”—“Let the games begin.”