By the time you’re reading this, most Americans would have scarfed down a variety of fast-food fare, and likely have gotten dangerously inebriated. More painfully to the wallet, people will spend nearly $15 billion collectively for viewing parties, all for a single game. Welcome to the Super Bowl economy!

According to a survey from the National Retail Federation, the total spend breaks down to $81 per person. In addition, those aged 35 to 44 are likely to spend more than $120. Perhaps most startling to casual observers, most football fans don’t have a rooting interest. Out of the 32 teams in the NFL, only two will make it to the final game.

Taking aside individual team skill and talents, fans only have a 6.3% chance that their team will be there. That’s a mighty big spend for such low probabilities!

Interestingly, this Super Bowl economy truly gained steam during the Great Recession era. In 2010, total spend for the football tournament fell to a multi-year low of $8.9 billion. But from there, expenditures rose consecutively until 2017. But at that point, the nominal payout skyrocketed to $14.1 billion.

Even more startling, the years 2015 through this year’s big game haul have formed a consolidation pattern. If this Super Bowl economy was a stock, I’d expect it to blow skyward after breaking through this horizontal action.


Super Bowl Economy Lost the Plot

Of course, the biggest spenders in the Super Bowl economy are the cities vying for hosting rights. What used to be an honor has now turned into a massive and often onerous investment.

Nowadays, it’s not unusual for host cities to fork over hundreds of millions in total costs. Theoretically, this represents a no-brainer investment. Every year, 100 million people tune in on TV. According to the NFL’s estimates, a Super Bowl can generate $300 million to $500 million in consumer revenue.

But as Business Insider reported, some experts remain skeptical of the supposed gold mine. That’s because a host city must provide several tax exemptions to the NFL. For instance, in 2014, New Jersey offered the NFL a tax break totaling $8 million. As a result, the state’s transit system “ended up with $5.6 million of losses transporting fans to and from the Super Bowl.”

Plus, the NFL expects the host city to provide a litany of accommodations. This includes “parking spaces, hotel rooms, transportation, billboards, security” and food, among several other items. At a certain point, unless the game is a major draw, the host bleeds money.

Still, people can’t get enough of the Super Bowl economy, even if it makes no fiscal sense.