A Guide to the Super Bowl

Las Vegas is hosting its first Super Bowl today. The city has a fraught history with professional sports because of its association with gambling, and leagues have kept teams away to maintain their sports’ appearance of integrity. That changed in 2018, when the Supreme Court cleared the way for legalized sports betting. Vegas officials, eager to boost tourism, lured professional baseball and football teams to the city. Hosting the Super Bowl is a crowning achievement.

Not everyone is happy about the transformation, though. Officials provided $750 million in subsidies to help build Allegiant Stadium, where the Super Bowl will take place, even as the city’s public schools have languished. “It just represents that we don’t care,” LaTasha Olsen, who works at a local elementary school, told my colleagues Ken Belson and Jenny Vrentas.

Usher, the headline act at halftime, is a showman made for the Super Bowl. He sings, he dances, he boasts a three-decade-long catalog that makes for recognizable medley fodder. But tonight’s performance is more than a nostalgia trip. Usher has experienced a recent renaissance, prompted by a Las Vegas residency. (Last year, videos of him serenading celebrities, including Keke Palmer and Issa Rae, spread widely on social media.)

Usher has framed his performance as a celebration of his career. It’s also a moment in the spotlight for his genre: “This night was specifically curated in my mind to have R&B take the main stage,” he told Vogue.

Industry experts expect this year’s Super Bowl to be the largest sports betting day in American history, with more than 67 million people wagering on the event. The most traditional type of bet is predicting the victor, with the underdog — in this case, the Chiefs — spotted a few points. But a growing trend in recent years has been making so-called prop bets, which allow you to gamble on just about anything, including:

  • Whether the game’s shortest touchdown play will be under 1.5 yards.

  • Whether it will take Reba McEntire under 90.5 seconds to sing the national anthem.

  • Any number of Swift-related uncertainties: Will her lipstick be red? How long will it be before she appears onscreen? And which of her songs will the announcers refer to first? The favorite is “Bad Blood.”

The Athletic put together its own prop bets, which you can play along with here without risking your money.

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