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The Super Bowl: Bad For Football Fans, Great For The Economy

by Scott Cox posted Feb 6 2012 11:10AM
America's big day has come and gone. Super Bowl Sunday went off without a hitch. We got a pretty good football game, some (but only some) above-average commercials, and an astonishingly bad halftime show. But none of those things are why the Super Bowl is so important to America. Here are some fun facts about the greatest spectacle in sport.

More people travel to another place on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. That's a lot of gas getting burned. More pizza get bought and delivered than any other day of the year. More beer, soda (all kinds), potato chips, nacho cheese, hot dogs, wine, cheese, carrots (yes, carrots), bottled water, limes, cilantro, folding chairs, celery, avocados, glass cleaner, beans, (baked and refried), chili, plastic cutlery, orange juice, and crackers are bought in preparation for this game than any other event.

Then there are the big-ticket items. More people cite the Super Bowl as their primary reason for buying a new TV than any other, and it's not even close. People buy new furniture and other household upgrades for the big game too. See, the Super Bowl is far more than a sporting event -- it's a big part of our country's economic engine.

The Super Bowl rakes in less cash than Christmas, but way more than Valentine's Day, Easter, St. Patrick's Day, Cinco De Mayo, and all the other spring holidays too. It's kind of a big deal. And while we all love Christmas, almost none of us bet on it, which is where the real cash get flowing on super Sunday.

About 70,000 fans went to Indianapolis for the big game. They all spent big bucks on tickets, lodging, and, presumably, Johnny Walker Red. But, while Indy certainly raked it in over the weekend, as usual, they couldn't hold a candle to Las Vegas. An estimated 350,000 folks made their way to Vegas for the Super Bowl, and while they saw the game on plasma screens instead of in person, they spent a lot more to do so.

Not only did they spring for lodging and food and beverage and tips, they wagered pretty close to $95 million. And that's just the legal sports book kind of gambling. The actual amount that was bet in Vegas alone is estimated at around $200 million. That's some serious re-distribution of wealth. And that's not counting the gambling houses all over the world, from Atlantic City to Monaco. Or my house, or yours, for that matter. Those dopey Super Bowl party games where you buy a square and a winner gets picked each quarter? Over half a billion dollars gets spent on those.

Add in all the friendly wagers that get made on the game, and the illegal-but-ubiquitous kind of gambling is around $2 billion. It's a good thing. For the winners, anyway. But also for the economy. People tend to spend cash that they won right away, whereas they will hang onto money they earned, so the economy gets a delayed boost after the Super Bowl. I know that the cash I won is going towards a couple of Johnny Cash records that I want on vinyl. So World Records will get a bump too. And don't forget all the band-wagoners out there who will spring for new Giants jerseys, hats and t-shirts. That adds up too.

Also, the fine folks on Madison Avenue will spend nearly $400 million to show you all those new commercials. Yes, they'll all be running all year, but make no mistake -- they were crafted especially for the big game. Think about this -- if Acura sells every NSX that is has available for sale in the U.S., they still won't make back the money they spent on that Seinfeld commercial. It was an excellent commercial, but also an excellent example of how much companies value the Superbowl as an advertising opportunity. Again, really good for the economy.

So even if you don't like the Patriots or the Giants, or care about football at all, just remember -- the Super Bowl is a hugely important day for our country. It brings us together, gives us something to root for, and most importantly, makes real people some real money. It's a great day all around, and not even Madonna can ruin that.
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02/06/2012 3:18PM
The Superbowl: Bad For Football Fans, Great For The Economy
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