Photo-Illustration: The Cut; Photos: Getty
At this point you’ve heard enough about the Traylor-ification of the NFL to know what today means to scores of Swifties who suddenly care about things like third down conversions and fumble recoveries.
Since Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce, tight-end for the Kansas City Chiefs, went public with their relationship in September, the NFL fandom saw a surge of female viewers seemingly overnight. After the Chiefs-Jacksonville Jaguars game on September 17, with rumors of the relationship swirling amongst Swifties, Roku TV reported a 63% increase in female viewers ages 18-49. Last month’s Chiefs vs. the Buffalo Bills game, according to CBS, was the most-watched “Divisional Round” game ever, with over 50 million viewers. According to Front Office Sports, sportswear retailer Fanatics reported a nearly 400% spike in Kelce’s jersey sales after Swift made her first surprise appearance at the September 24 Chiefs-Bears matchup. The Kelce brothers’ podcast New Heights with Jason and Travis Kelce currently ranks third in Spotify’s top podcast rankings, bested only by The Joe Rogan Experience and The Tucker Carlson Podcast.
And since the Chiefs won a place in this year’s big game, female-focused brands like L’Oreal NYX and e.l.f. Cosmetics are throwing down to advertise at the Super Bowl for the first time. The league itself has also leaned into what commissioner Roger Goodell has called the “Taylor Swift Effect,” panning to Swift seven times in one game (technically, just 0.39% of the full telecast for anyone still counting) and temporarily changing its Twitter bio to “NFL (Taylor’s Version).”
While some women and queer folks have long enjoyed the NFL, the Cut spoke to a handful of women across the country who are planning Super Bowl parties, many for the first time, specifically in the name of one Taylor Allison Swift. Yasmin Greene, a 29-year-old mom and ICU registered nurse in Jacksonville, NC, went from a casual Seattle Seahawks fan to a ten-day, all-intensive Super Bowl party planner, crafting custom pink Kansas City shot glasses for entry jello shots and a giant “Karma is the Guy on the Chiefs” garland to watch the team who once shattered the Seahawks chances at the playoffs. Chicago-based 29-year-old Ashley Gross transformed from a football hater to the sort of fan who plans to cricut her own Swelce shirt and serve her guests “Miss Americana & The Heartburn Prince” queso dip. Houston-based 32-year-old Alessandra Madrid even converted her husband into a joint Swiftie-Chiefs fan with repeated gameday helpings of chicken tenders and “seemingly ranch.” And not only are Swifties making plans, but obsessively documenting them online — sharing their menu puns, Etsy finds, and timelapses of their bracelet-making sessions.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper game without some bad sports. As women delighted in their communal party-prep rituals, enjoying the thrills of the league for the first time, salty male fans, MAGA guys, and conspiracy theorists made a point to degrade them at every turn of the Taylor Cam. As reported on Fox Sports, 15% of NFL viewers “despise” Taylor Swift, and 8% claim they are less interested in the NFL because of her ramped-up presence. Conservative author Nick Adams, who refers to himself as an “Alpha Male” in earnest, tweeted that Swift was a “gold digger,” despite the singer’s earnings obviously exceeding Kelce’s. One Barstool troglodyte demanded he see a sex tape of Traylor as evidence that Kelce would actually date the popstar. Back on planet Earth, the noted private jet enthusiast’s attendance at today’s game will likely be made possible by said preferred mode of transportation — adding to her reputation as the “biggest celebrity [carbon dioxide] polluter.” You can’t win ‘em all.
In any case, while some factions within the NFLdom may not be ready for the wave of Swifties crashing their collective Super Bowl party this weekend, it’s too late. (Swifties were labeled as separate from “legitimate NFL fans,” and one Sports Illustrated critic wrote that NBC “embarrassed itself” by showing “Taylor Swift jump[ing] around and mak[ing] faces in the suite.”) This fandom is savvy, die-hard, and willing to cough up cash to fund their gameday “Champagne Problems.” They’re ready for their turn in the glow of those glorious Sunday night lights — dads, Brads, and Chads be damned.
Photo: Alessandra Madrid
Alessandra Madrid is planning her first ever Super Bowl party for Sunday’s big game. The Houston-based marketing freelancer normally does something small for her and her husband — a Houston Texans employee and Miami Dolphins fan at heart — but this is her first time going all out.
Madrid is a longtime Swiftie: She has a groupchat with four long-distance friends who all went to the Eras tour in Tampa together, and are planning to do the same when Taylor hits Munich in July. The second the Chiefs clinched the AFC Championship, the group chat started popping off, and Madrid and her crew began drafting a Swift pun-filled menu: Bad Blood Orange Margaritas, I Knew It From the First Old Fashioned, Sunset & Wine: Sauvignon Blanc (Taylor’s favorite), Look What You Made Me Dip (artichoke and spinach dip), Don’t Blame Brie (baked brie with raspberry jalapeño jam), This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Wings, and Knew He Was a Killa Tacos. Currently, she’s expecting about 12 people. Dress code? Red required, sparkles encouraged. Swelce-specific Etsy shirts? Acquired. Disco ball vases, “Killa Trav” heart-shaped glasses, and koozies (Taylor’s Version)? Check, check, and check.
Madrid admits she used to find football games long and boring. “But once you’re engaged, it honestly goes by pretty fast. And now, I’m like oh, second down! I know what that means!” she says. “I’m mainly there for the Taylor Cam, but you know, in between I have to be engaged and know what’s going on.”
As an unexpected bonus, Madrid says her sudden interest in the NFL has brought her and her husband Javi closer. Madrid has always enjoyed tailgating or watching NFL games at sports bars, but now that she’s actually tapped in, the two are connecting on an entirely new level as a couple. Javi even happily joined in on Madrid’s Super Bowl crafting day last week, in which she invited two girlfriends over and served what she calls “the essentials”: caviar, hummus, guacamole, and champagne. (The caviar was 20% off at Whole Foods. She couldn’t resist.) Javi strung together a “Reputation TV” bracelet for Madrid and one for himself that read “8 SB 7” — Kelce’s jersey number.
Photo: Alessandra Madrid
“It’s funny because honestly [my friends and I] would never talk about football that much. But all of a sudden, we’re all watching the games and we all bought gear,” she says. “One of my friends has a Kansas City baseball cap that she always wears now, and I bought a t-shirt that has the lyrics ‘Tis the damn season’ with a football. This group chat is honestly fully dedicated to either planning Eras tour trips or talking about Taylor and Travis these days.”
“Who knows?” she laughs. “Maybe this will be my new thing.”
Gina Crosley-Corcoran, the 45-year-old mom and frontwoman of Taylor Swift tribute band Burning Red, is fervently preparing for her own Super Bowl hosting gig in Chicago. As a musician herself, Crosley-Corcoran was officially hooked on Swift when she released Red. By the time Reputation hit shelves? “My whole brain chemistry changed that day,” she laughs.
But Crosley-Corcoran’s fandom goes deeper than just attending concerts and making friendship bracelets: She’s dedicated her musical career to Swift’s catalog, and knows how to sing and play every song Taylor’s produced. At her band’s first show in March 2023, she and her husband (her bandmate) sold out a 750-capacity theater. “So yeah, it’s partly my job to be a Swiftie,” she tells the Cut.
Before Swift was filmed bouncing around in a Chiefs suite with Brittany Mahomes, Crosley-Corcoran “was the opposite of tapped into football.” “I would kind of make fun of sportsball, like what’s the big deal? Like, who cares?” she says. “My husband is actually an athlete but doesn’t watch sports. We joked that I never would have married him if he ever made me watch sports because I just could not. But you know, Taylor Swift decided we’re all NFL fans now.”
It started innocently: On January 21, when the Chiefs took on the Buffalo Bills, Crosley-Corcoran’s husband suggested they watch the game together, both hoping to catch a glimpse of Swift. With Crosley-Corcoran on the couch next to him, he clued her in on the rules, and by the end of the game, she was jumping up and down on her couch, screaming at the TV, and dreaming of a Traylor Super Bowl.
By the time she figured the Chiefs would be headed to today’s championship game, Crosley-Corcoran knew she wanted to do something special. Except…she’d never even been to a Super Bowl party. She found herself googling, “What do people do for the Super Bowl?” Her next question was less Google-able: How does one create a safe space for this sort of thing?
“I don’t want to risk being at a sports bar where there’s too much testosterone or guys are going to be complaining about Taylor because I just don’t have time in my life for that,” she says.
Which is why she’ll have 20 or so people, many of whom are from her local Chicago Swifties group on Facebook, coming to her house for the big game. In the days leading up, Crosley-Corcoran has been busy setting up a banner for a photo opp that has “Taylor’s Version” of the NFL logo, printing out stickers that say “champion rings” (which is a line from “Willow,” she notes), and baking jersey-shaped cookies with Kelce’s number on them. And don’t forget the poster of shirtless Jason Kelce that reads, “He’s cheer captain, and I’m on the bleachers.”
And to all the Swiftie haters? “We’re good people to have on your side. I think of Swifties as the ultimate fans,” Crosley-Corcoran says. “We’re not fair weather, we are in it through thick and thin, we get really excited, and we spend a lot of money, and I think the NFL has already seen that if you direct some of that fandom energy towards football, it’s going to pay off in excitement and sales.”
Photo: Gina Crosley-Corcoran
In New York City, 29-year-old Lauren Black is hosting a more lowkey Swiftie soiree, though this is also her first time hosting a Super Bowl party. She was inducted into the fandom at a Fearless concert nearly 14 years ago, and, later, at the Red tour in 2013, she was compelled — for some reason — to buy a Taylor Swift jersey. “Finally, for the first time, I have a reason to wear it,” she laughs.
Growing up in Southern California, Black watched plenty of football with family, and found the whistles and cheers to be comforting “background noise.” She knew the general rules of gameplay, and her investment level stayed mostly casual — until rumors of Swelce surfaced in September.
“I was admittedly very suspicious at first. I had heard that this one random football player was talking about how he wanted to date Taylor Swift,” she says. “And I was like, what a social climber! He’s just doing this for attention. Like, what is he talking about?”
Only later did a friend point out that that “random football player” was best-in-his-craft tight end Kelce — someone Black found worthy of Swift’s pop stardom, for once. Fast-forward five months, and Black has been digging through her closet for outfit options to wear today, and now owns a Chiefs hat. Just don’t expect any Taylor Swift-themed snacks at this party (“I feel like that’s too much for me personally”). As for her invitees: “They’ve been told this is a Chiefs household, and by that I mean a Taylor Swift boyfriend’s household. It’s not gonna be a requirement, but hopefully the message will be understood.”
Photo: Lauren Black
For Black, though, this cultural moment is less about spotlighting insider Swiftie lore, and more about relishing the opportunity to be earnest about the convergence of two equally fervent fandoms.
“You have to understand, as someone who’s loved her music and enjoyed being a part of the fanbase for so long, there were three or four years where the popular opinion wasn’t to root for her,” Black says. She’s referring to a pre-2016 era when, in the leadup to the release of Reputation, Swift found herself at the center of a lyric controversy spurred by Kanye West’s “Famous” and was publicly labeled a “snake” and an “obnoxious Nazi Barbie.” During that time, Black remembers, Swift withdrew into hiding, and for fans, identifying as a Swiftie suddenly felt akin to wearing a scarlet letter. (Not that the fans haven’t been known to fight back or instigate things themselves. Best of luck to Joe.) “To be able to get giddy about her on TV or Kelce showing up to her concerts…It’s just a carefree thing to be able to do when everything else is going on in the world. It’s like, let us just have this. It doesn’t have to be this controversial thing.”
Black knows the fandom can get a little cringe about all of this, but she mostly attributes that to pure excitement. At the same time, she wants to make clear that she doesn’t “blanket support” the NFL. Quite the opposite: She hopes additional scrutiny from an intersectional, feminist fanbase will hold the league to a higher standard when it comes to player safety, domestic violence, racism, and sexual assault. Perhaps the league didn’t purposefully invite the Swifties in, but they’re here now, and the league will certainly feel their influence — and their disposable income — for years to come.
“In such a male-dominated sport and fanbase, it feels like a radical act to show up as we are and want to participate in the good part of the sport, not as girlfriends or wives or moms, or because our partners are fans,” Black says. “But simply because we ourselves chose to be interested.”