US singer-songwriter Taylor Swift and Kansas City Chiefs' tight end Travis Kelce embrace after the Chiefs' Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers
Las Vegas (AFP) - Taylor Swift’s trans-Pacific dash to the Super Bowl was rewarded with a thrilling overtime triumph for boyfriend Travis Kelce and the Kansas City Chiefs.
The pop icon was performing in Tokyo on Saturday night before hopping a private jet to make the NFL championship spectacular in Las Vegas, a journey that ended in hugs and tears of joy as the Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 in just the second overtime game in Super Bowl history.
Swift, who won a record fourth Album of the Year Grammy this month, arrived at Allegiant Stadium in style, her bespoke Kansas City Chiefs jacket slung over her shoulder and her gold necklace bearing Kelce’s number 87.
Wearing a black corset-style top and black jeans with crystal-lined slits on each leg, she was joined by celebrity friends along with her parents, Andrea and Scott Swift, and her brother Austin and Kelce’s parents Ed and Donna and his brother Jason – who plays for the Philadelphia Eagles.
The 34-year-old was the brightest in a galaxy of stars attending the game – the 13th Chiefs game she has turned out for since she and Kelce became an item last year.
Actor Blake Lively and Ice Spice joined her in the luxury suite, and Swift fans watching at home were treated to their first glimpse of her during pre-game festivities, when broadcaster CBS offered a cutaway shot of the singer and friends.
Swift’s friend singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey and music legend Paul McCartney made appearances in the suite, where cameras caught Swift swaying to Post Malone’s pre-game performance of “America the Beautiful” but looking tense in the early minutes of the contest.
Fans who like their football with plenty of cold beverages were delighted when the stadium’s massive electronic scoreboard showed Swift chugging a drink in seconds and slamming down the empty cup with a flourish.
She celebrated ecstatically – long ponytail bouncing – when the Chiefs scored a touchdown to take the lead for the first time in the game late in the third quarter.
There would be more tense moments, however, before the 49ers sealed the victory with a touchdown with three seconds left in overtime.
Swift’s relationship with Kelce has captivated the NFL and popular culture this season, bringing legions of new female fans to the sport and sending television ratings rocketing.
Her appearance in Las Vegas was tipped to help set a television ratings record for the Super Bowl, already the biggest event on the US sporting calendar.
Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is flanked by rapper Ice Spice, actress Blake Lively, Jason Kelce, Donna Kelce and Ed Kelce at Super Bowl LVIII between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers
Kelce said he was relishing the attention that his celebrity romance has brought, joking this week that he felt under pressure to win after Swift’s Album of the Year award at last weekend’s Grammys.
“She’s unbelievable,” Kelce said of Swift. “She’s rewriting the history books.”
Swift’s presence at Chiefs games and breathless media coverage of her sprint to Las Vegas from Tokyo has been criticized by some fans.
But the singer’s detractors were given short shrift by British music diva Adele during an eve-of-Super Bowl concert at Caesars Palace on Saturday night.
“I’m a bit torn, because I kind of want the 49ers to win … but I think I want the Chiefs to win just because of Taylor Swift’s boyfriend,” Adele told fans at her show, adding in expletive-filled comments that naysayers should “get a life.”
- Conspiracy theories -
The NFL has welcomed the new audience Swift has brought to the league, but commissioner Roger Goodell this week found himself dismissing conspiracy theories suggesting the Super Bowl had been rigged in a bid to tip this year’s presidential election in favor of President Joe Biden.
US singer-songwriter Taylor Swift, US actress Blake Lively, US rapper Ice Spice and US singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey react during the Kansas City Chiefs' Super Bowl win over the San Francisco 49ers
Goodell said the theories were “frankly not even worth talking about.”
On Sunday, former president Donald Trump, the front-runner to take on Biden in November, said in a post on Truth Social on Sunday that a Swift endorsement of Biden in the 2024 election would be “disloyal”.
Trump, claiming credit for the Music Modernization Act, said the legislation addressing copyright law and streaming rights had benefitted Swift.
“Joe Biden didn’t do anything for Taylor, and never will,” Trump wrote, saying there was “no way” the singer would endorse Biden and “be disloyal to the man who made her so much money.”
“Besides that, I like her boyfriend, Travis, even though he may be a Liberal, and probably can’t stand me!” Trump added.
While Kelce has largely steered clear of public comments on politics, he drew the ire of the right for appearing in ads promoting Covid vaccines.