When Super Bowl LVIII kicks off Sunday afternoon between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Fransisco 49ers drawing an estimated audience of 200 million people, not all eyes will be on the two football teams.
Instead, droves will be frenetically searching for one Taylor Swift — arguably the most iconic figure in pop culture. Since Swift and Chiefs star tight end Travis Kelce went public about their relationship back in September, televised audiences for NFL competitions have seen a 7% increase, reports indicate. She has also generated an estimated brand value of $331 million for the Kansas City organization and the NFL since the dating rumors were confirmed.
Though Swift has risen to seemingly unreachable heights in the entertainment industry, amassing an estimated net worth of more than $1 billion and continuing to dominate the charts with her countless hits, the star began the early days of her music career as a supporting act alongside one of the Magnolia State’s most beloved artists.
Missississippi Music and Culture Ambassador Steve Azar recalls a time when he and Swift, a 16-year-old looking to make her way in country music, performed on the same stage as openers for Phil Vassar at the Pine Knob Music Theatre near Detroit, Michigan in 2006. Azar caught a glimpse of what was to come in Swift’s career when his young daughter stood in awe of the rising star as Swift signed an autograph for the child, earning a fan for life.
“I can tell you, my daughter, Cecelia, she was three or four when she got an autograph from [Swift] and she just became a fan — forever,” Azar recounted on The Ricky Mathews Show. “I just watched how she handled Cecelia and I said, ‘This girl has got it.’”
From then, Swift proved to have that “it” factor, quickly becoming an international sensation, selling out large stadiums and arenas while simultaneously captivating the full, undivided attention of those in her presence. She is now a 14-time GRAMMY Award winner who has won a record-breaking four Album of the Year honors, surpassing records held by Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, and Paul Simon.
Credited with a catalog of household hit songs too long to list — many of which were written by Swift herself — the star continues to not only remain relevant in the harsh entertainment industry, but also routinely circulate through the headlines with her newest songs, relationship with Kelce, and just about anything else she does.
In this relatively newfound relationship with Kelce, Azar points out that a different side of Swift is now put on display for the world to see. This side isn’t one of a rich celebrity looking to tap into a new demographic of potential fans. Azar asserts that Swift is demonstrating a genuine display of affection for Kelce and an ability to appeal to ordinary people.
“She’s up there supporting her man. There’s a normalcy to it. All of a sudden, she looks like a fan. That’s the beauty in her — that she can step back and be that person. She looks like it,” Azar continued. “She’s not trying to go, ‘look at me, look at me, look at me.’ She’s never been that way.”
Super Bowl XLVIII will kick off on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. CT, and one question remains — where will Taylor Swift be during the game? While she is scheduled to perform a leg of The Eras Tour in Tokyo, Japan one day ahead of the most popular sporting event in the U.S., both American and Japanese officials ensure that she will land in Las Vegas in time to see her man in action.
“The Embassy of Japan in the United States is aware of recent media reports concerning the steps Taylor Swift will need to take to travel from Tokyo after her concert on February 10th to Las Vegas in time to watch the Kansas City Chiefs play in Super Bowl LVIII,” a statement from the Japanese Embassy reads.
Super Bowl availability is very limited and getting into the world-renowned event is not as easy as it would appear, even for an icon of Swift’s magnitude. However, it has been confirmed that she will, in fact, attend the game that will have the undivided attention of hundreds of millions of spectators.
The full interview with Azar can be watched below.