First thing’s first: Misinformation and disinformation are bad. False tweets that go viral, government conspiracy theories, lies about vaccines—these are all huge problems online, and they’re poised to get worse thanks to generative AI. There are a few exceptions, though. The best of these came to light over the weekend when Taylor Swift showed up at a Kansas City Chiefs game. Sports internet and Swiftie internet promptly collided—and collapsed into chaos.
Some background: Swift is, for all intents and purposes, at the height of her career. Her Eras Tour, from which she’s currently taking a break, has been a juggernaut of ticket sales and a boon to local economies. (Her Los Angeles stint reportedly raised the city’s GDP by $320 million.) On the Kansas City stop of this tour, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce attempted to give Swift a friendship bracelet with his phone number on it, but never got the chance. Then, on Sunday, September 24, Swift was spotted in Kelce’s box at Arrowhead Stadium next to his mom, Donna, apparently screaming “Let’s fucking go!” when he caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Because the internet loves conspiracy theories, and sports, and Swift, the rumor mill quickly started spinning more golden yarns than Rumpelstiltskin. They ranged from ways Swift would use the rumors of her new beau to tank the Chiefs’ season to ways the NFL would capitalize on this moment to get her to play a Super Bowl halftime show. Everyone, it seems, is a mastermind. Let’s break down the best—or at least funnest—theories.
Taylor Swift Is Trying to Tank the Chiefs—and Help the Eagles
Swift, if you didn’t know, is from Pennsylvania. She’s a Philadelphia Eagles fan. In what is surely the most popular fan theory about her alleged romance with Kelce, a user on TikTok speculated that Swift’s closeness to the tight end was all a ruse to ruin his life so that he plays like crap and tanks the Chiefs’ season. (The Chiefs beat the Eagles in the last Super Bowl.)
Taylor Swift Is Actually Trying to Date Travis Kelse’s Brother, Jason—an Eagle
Now, you might be wondering: If Swift wants the Eagles to make a comeback this season, why doesn’t she just date someone on their team, thus boosting morale and leading them to victory? Good question. She might be doing that, at least according to tweets pointing out that Travis Kelce’s brother, Jason, plays for the Eagles, and speculating that her rooting for Travis is “the biggest inside job of all time.”
Taylor Swift Wanted to Outshine Kim Kardashian’s Announcement That Usher Was This Year’s Super Bowl Performer
There are a couple of Super Bowl theories here. One, there’s idle speculation that the NFL is playing up Swift’s attendance at Sunday’s game and her new affiliation with the league in an attempt to coerce her to bring that Eras Tour energy (and hype) to the halftime show. (Last weekend, the NFL changed its bio on TikTok to “Taylor was here.”) But there’s also a competing theory on TikTok that the move is a throwback to Swift’s Reputation era, when she was feuding with Kim Kardashian. (It’s too much to try to explain in this piece, but start here.) Why? “The NFL gave [Swift] more attention than they gave Kim Kardashian announcing Usher as the halftime show.” Honestly, we kinda buy this.
The Numbers Make Sense
Kelce and Swift were both born in 1989, an important year for Swift—so important that she named (a soon to be rereleased) album after it. Another number that’s important to Swift is 13, her lucky number. Kelce’s number on the field is 87. If you add them up, it equals 100. Which apparently makes them perfect.
Taylor Swift Is Trying to Deflect Attention From Sophie Turner
Just days before Sunday’s game, the biggest news about Swift was that she was seen out in New York City with Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner. The hot goss was that Turner had recently split from husband Joe Jonas, whom Swift used to date and wrote the song “Mr. Perfectly Fine” about, and they were together laughing about him (or something). The theory here is that Swift took to Kelce’s box at Arrowhead to keep folks from talking about her friend.
Taylor Swift Just Wants Material for a New Album
OK, so this is always the theory. Any time there are rumors that Swift is dating someone new, there’s constant speculation that she’s just trying to have another relationship that she can mine for future song lyrics. Hey, if a fling with a football player leads to some Folklore-esque songs that sub in varsity jackets for cardigans, that isn’t the worst thing. Also, “Style” is about her relationship with Harry Styles and is one of the best pop songs of the past decade.
Taylor Swift Wants to Sell Movie Tickets
This one isn’t so much a conspiracy theory as “people know how PR machines work now,” but on Tuesday, September 26, Swift announced that the concert film Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour would be screening in more than 100 countries starting October 13 and that tickets were on sale. Perhaps some football fans might be inclined to buy one now?