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Taylor Swift's star power sends Travis Kelce's jersey sales soaring

Donna Kelce, wearing her son Travis' No. 87 jersey, and Taylor Swift are seen during the Kansas City Chiefs' game with the Chicago Bears in Kansas City, Missouri. Sales of Kelce's jersey soared after Swift appeared at the game.
Jason Hanna
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Donna Kelce, wearing her son Travis' No. 87 jersey, and Taylor Swift are seen during the Kansas City Chiefs' game with the Chicago Bears in Kansas City, Missouri. Sales of Kelce's jersey soared after Swift appeared at the game.

It takes 106 football players to sell out an NFL stadium, or one Taylor Swift. So it's little surprise that after Swift came to a Kansas City Chiefs game, apparently to see tight end Travis Kelce, sales of Kelce's jersey went through the roof.

That's according to Fanatics, the NFL's official e-commerce partner for jerseys and other apparel and gear.

"On Sunday, Travis Kelce was one of the top 5 selling NFL players," the company told NPR, "and saw a nearly 400% spike in sales throughout the Fanatics network of sites, including NFLShop.com."

The surge of interest propelled Kelce from 19th (dating from the start of the season through Saturday) into the top five since Sunday.

So, why was Swift at a Kansas City football game?

Kelce's chemistry with quarterback Patrick Mahomes has helped the Chiefs win two Super Bowls. But this summer, rumors swirled about a possible connection the elite tight end might be forming with Swift.

"It started in July, when Travis Kelce went to one of Taylor's Eras Tour shows when she was in Kansas City," as Nora Princiotti, staff writer for The Ringer and host of the music podcast Every Single Album, told All Things Considered.

Like many Swifties, Kelce brought a friendship bracelet to the show — but he also put his phone number on it. He tried, but failed, to get it to Swift. It seems a breakthrough came after Kelce talked about his attempt to contact Swift on the podcast he hosts with his brother (Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce).

"That ended in Taylor accepting Travis' invitation to show up at Arrowhead Stadium to see the Chiefs play the Bears on Sunday," Princiotti said.

Swift has played in more NFL stadiums than some players

Swift is no stranger to football fields. She's drawn sell-out crowds to 20 NFL stadiums on her "Eras Tour" this year, and she recently announced plans to play in three more pro football venues in 2024, with concerts in New Orleans, Miami and Indianapolis.

Earlier tours, like 2018's "Reputation" tour, saw the pop star play to crowds in NFL stadiums she skipped for Eras, such as FedEx Field in Landover, Md., and the erstwhile FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.

In fact, Swift's headline-making visit to Kansas City on Sunday came exactly 12 years after she played Arrowhead Stadium on her "Speak Now" world tour. That 2011 show even predates the Chiefs' drafting of Kelce, in 2013.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.