This article first appeared on n-tv.de.
Travis Kelce's achievements are impressive. The tight end has been playing in the NFL for ten years, and in 2013 the Kansas City Chiefs drafted him as the 63rd player overall. With the franchise he won the Super Bowl in 2019 and 2022, catching a touchdown each time. He has been selected to the Pro Bowl eight times and is part of the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team, tied only with the legendary Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady's sidekick, at his position.
He reached 1,000 receiving yards in seven consecutive seasons, an NFL record. He also holds the record for most receiving yards, with 1,416 yards in 2020, although he only played 15 games. He reached the 10,000 career receiving yards mark in 2022, fewer seasons (10) than any tight end has needed before. He is an important player on star quarterback Patrick Mahomes' team.
The 33-year-old has also built up a lot off the pitch, which guarantees him the spotlight. In 2016, when he had already played in the NFL for three years, he was the main character in the TV show "Catching Kelce", a dome show similar to "The Bachelor". Incidentally, the relationship with the winner did not last. He hosted an episode of the late night show "Saturday Night Live" on NBC. Together with his brother Jason, who is two years older and is under contract as a center for the Philadelphia Eagles, he runs the popular football podcast “New Heights”.
Still, a woman had to come along first to maximize his fame. To let it soar to incredible heights: Taylor Swift. Since there were rumors that the two were lovers, nothing has been the same for Kelce. It all started quite harmlessly. On the podcast in July, Kelce said he wanted to meet Swift at the Kansas City concert during her tour and give her a friendship bracelet. However, she would have refused to protect her voice. Then he said in an ESPN interview last week that he invited Swift to a game: "I told her, 'I saw you take the stage at Arrowhead (Chiefs Stadium, editor's note). ) rocked. Maybe you should also see me rock the stage at Arrowhead to see which of the two has more charisma."
A provocation, the evaluation of which Kelce clearly loses. Swift has 273 million followers on Instagram alone, the fans called "Swifties" are known for their obsessiveness - Kelce now has 3.4 million. However, his channel has seen growth of more than 35 percent in the past four weeks. The numbers exploded particularly last Sunday – 276 percent more than on Saturday.
Because on Sunday the Kansas City Chiefs played against the Chicago Bears. The Chiefs crushed the visitors 41-10 and Kelce scored a touchdown. But the real spectacle took place off the pitch. Also sitting in the Kelce family box, where mother Donna cheered on her son: Taylor Swift. And the fans went crazy. “This takes it to a completely different level,” Daniel Durbin, a professor of communications at the University of Southern California, told the New York Times. "This is celebrity on steroids, and it has a powerful impact."
Dallas Cowboys star linebacker Micah Parsons posted on X, formerly Twitter, that a woman "can change your life!!!" Even New England Patriots star coach Bill Belichick, known for his gruff answers, said on a radio show that "Travis Kelce has made a lot of big catches in his career - this is the biggest."
However – and this must be taken into account throughout the story – it is not certain that Kelce and Swift are actually lovers. Maybe the two are just friends. The two have not yet commented specifically on this. But that doesn't stop the "Swifties" from coming up with the most beautiful stories and dreaming of a great romance. Some posters to this effect could be seen at Arrowhead Stadium.
Of course the media plays along perfectly. The Fox cameras panned to Swift almost every time Kelce touched the ball to capture her reaction. She ate chicken fingers, she cheered for the Chiefs, she even had a lip reader assigned to her. And: She wore a Chiefs windbreaker jacket — which sold out on merchandise site Fanatics.com within 30 minutes.
Mahomes also felt the special attention, he said with a wink: "I heard she was in the house and felt a little pressure. I knew I had to give Travis the ball." That worked, the touchdown is proof of success. Kelce was very happy with the evening, which he talked about on his podcast with brother Jason. He had joked: "Trav, how does it feel that Taylor Swift has finally put you on the map?" Travis Kelce said, "I just thought it was great that everyone in the lodge had nothing but good things to say about her." He emphasized: "She looked incredible." In general, he seemed to have had some time to watch her on the screen. "To see the chest bumps in slow motion, to see the high fives with mom, to see the Chiefs Kingdom all over "I was excited that she was there - it was absolutely hysterical. That was definitely a game I'll remember, that's for damn sure."
At the same time, he referred to the rumors that the two were just playing a big show for advertising reasons: "We staged it all perfectly, ladies and gentlemen." He even joked about his coach Andy Reid claiming to be a matchmaker. "Then Coach Reid told everyone he was Cupid. He's been saying that all along," he said. Jason Kelce asked if there was any truth to Reid bringing the two stars together. “I don’t even know how to answer that,” Travis Kelce said. "I know he's met the Swift family before, so he might have been in the background the whole time." Whether the two are really a couple or not, he continued to keep it a secret: "It's really like it's my private life," said Travis Kelce. "I want to respect both of our lives." And further: "I enjoy life, and I really enjoyed this weekend."
Numerous profiteers are likely to hope that the rumor mill continues to simmer. Among other things, the TV stations. The singer's loyal fans tuned in, with some of them posting on social media that they were watching football for the first time. This was impressively reflected in the number of spectators. Fox's broadcast of the game was the most-watched game of the week with 24.3 million viewers. Fox reportedly saw an 8.1 percent increase in its female 12- to 17-year-old audience compared to week three last year. Other data shows the game saw a 63 percent increase in female viewers ages 18 to 49 compared to the Chiefs' game against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week.
Nobody wants to miss the hype. The NFL temporarily renamed itself "NFL Taylor's Version" at Others also take advantage of the popularity and rumors and sell corresponding merchandise or adapt their advertising. For example, the fashion label KidSuper, whose jacket and pants Kelce wore when he left Arrowhead Stadium. It sent the internet into a frenzy when people discovered that the combination was named "1989 Bedroom Painting." Many saw this as a hidden reference to Swift's album "1989 (Taylor's Version)," which she will release on October 27th.
It was a joke from the label that turned out to be incredibly sales-promoting. The jacket is sold out, the trousers are only available in small quantities - and at prices of 295 (280 euros) or 285 dollars (270 euros). In fact, the series was actually just called “Bedroom Paining.” However, a friend of the designer saw Kelce in the clothing and suggested they rename it. "All we did was write '1989,'" Colm Dillane told the New York Times. "We thought, 'Ha-ha, that's funny,' and then I tweeted it. The Swifties in Cincinnati picked it up, and then it just spread like crazy."
The fact that Kelce, dressed in this very outfit, drove away with Swift in the convertible may have contributed to the hype. Anyway, the topic of outfit: According to Fanatics, the seller of NFL jerseys, Kelce's jersey with number 87 is incredibly popular at the moment, even though it costs around 130 dollars (around 123.50 euros). "Yesterday, Travis Kelce was one of the top five best-selling NFL players, recording a nearly 400 percent increase in sales across the entire Fanatics network, including NFLShop.com," Fanatics told TMZ.
Next weekend Kelce will play with his Chiefs at the New York Jets. It's the popular "Sunday Night Football" match on NBC (Monday night, 2:20 a.m. CEST) - and Swift has an apartment in New York, so she could be there live in the stadium again. NBC is expecting a ratings hit and since the run for tickets is great, prices are rising. The fans obviously hope to be able to sit in the same stadium as their idol. So the entire NFL is probably hoping that Kelce and Swift will keep the public busy for quite some time.