For about four hours on Sunday, February 4, more than 100 million Americans joined together in a national ritual, watching the Philadelphia Eagles upset the mighty New England Patriots. Sometimes taking place right at the end of the January , or alternatively at the beginning of February, Super Bowl Sunday is an unofficial national holiday in the United States, uniting the country like few other events are capable of doing. On this day, the two teams remaining at the end of the grueling National Football League season do battle for the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy.
About one third of all Americans view the game, making it the not only most-watched sporting event in the United States, but the country’s most watched TV event in general. This still pales in comparison to number of soccer fans worldwide that tune in the UEFA Champions League Final or the finals of the FIFA World Cup, not to mention fans watching the finals of the Cricket World Cup, but it is still a massive spectacle, and a mini-industry in and of itself.
According to the United States’ National Retail Federation, total spending surrounding the Super Bowl was forecast to top $15.3 billion in 2018. Viewers were expected to eat 1.35 billion chicken wings, and drink 2.6 billion pints of beers during the game. Water pressure drops noticeably in major cities around the country during television commercial breaks, as millions of Americans simultaneously take the opportunity to visit the bathroom.
There is another tradition that has become part and parcel of the Super Bowl experience and that is the championship ring. Created for members of the winning team, it has a legacy that dates back to Super Bowl I in 1967, where the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs. It was relatively modest item then, featuring a 1-carat diamond that was surrounded by an outline of a globe, and was meant to represent the game’s status as the world championship of football. It should be noted that, at the time, although there was and still is a popular Canadian version of the sport, American rules football was only played professionally in the United States.
But, as time progressed, the size of the ring grew and the number of diamonds it contained multiplied. By 2017, the ring produced for the players of the victorious New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI (or 51, for in this sport of gladiators, Roman numerals are considered more appropriate) featured 283 diamonds.
The league itself reimburses teams for 150 rings at maximum $5,000 per item. But, because team owners want their championship rings to outdo those that came before them, they order jewelry that is more elaborate, and foot the rest of the bill themselves. They sometimes are helped by the jewelry manufacturers making the rings, who will kick in part of the fee for the publicity it provides.
There are certain rules. The gold from which the rings are made cannot be more than 10K, and first-time winners cannot wear a diamond weighing more than 150 points.
There also is a story behind the 283 diamonds set in the 2017 championship ring. During that game, in which the New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Hawks, the team from Boston managed to overcome a 28-3 deficit, winning the game in overtime. Needless to say, the owner of the team from Georgia was not amused.
A total of 14,999 diamonds were used just to produce the 2017 championship rings for the Patriots’ 53-man roster, its coaching staff, support staff and others.
The Patriot had hoped for another championship ring in 2018. But, as it turned out, that honor will now go to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The championship ring awarded to the winners of the first Super Bowl, 52 years ago. It was a relatively modest item of jewelry, set with a 1-carat diamond
The 2017 championship ring was set with 283 diamonds. The number was selected to celebrate the 28-3 deficit that the winning team, the New England Patriots, was able to overcome during the Super Bowl.