The Dark Side of the Super Bowl That No One Is Talking About

With all the excitement of the Super Bowl, comes a dark side that few people know about, let alone want to talk about. Prostitution, illegal gambling, human trafficking, and more have plagued the Super Bowl for years.

Super Bowl Sunday might bring out some of the best athletes in all of sports, but it also brings out some of the worst humans around. With billions of dollars rapidly changing hands, a large and illegal underground is almost always there to provide people with less than legal entertainment. It has gotten to the point where, for some, the Super Bowl and prostitution, among other illegal deeds, go hand in hand.

Fortunately, host cities are doing more and more each year in an attempt to curb the illegal activity that comes in spades with the Super Bowl. Check out this list featuring the worst of the dark side of the Super Bowl, from alcohol, gambling, sex, and everything in between.
Photo: Joe Parks / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

  • DUI Cases Spike on Super Bowl Sunday

    DUI Cases Spike on Super Bowl Sunday
    Photo: hyku / flickr / CC-BY 2.0
    Super Bowl Sunday has earned the notorious title of one of America's drunkest days. Unfortunately, this translates to a lot of DUIs. It's a dark side of the Super Bowl that affects not just fans, but players too. In 2013, Delainie Walker's aunt and uncle, who were at the Super Bowl to watch their nephew play for the 49ers, were both killed by a drunk driver following the game. Walker has since been an outspoken opponent of drunk driving, encouraging fans to think before they get behind the wheel.
  • Prostitution Is Rampant

    Prostitution Is Rampant
    Photo: Ira C / flickr / CC-BY-ND 2.0
    Prostitution is a rampant problem in several of America's biggest cities, and when the Super Bowl rolls into town, that problem is only exacerbated. It largely comes down to a supply and demand issue. An increase of people, especially wealthier individuals, causes the demand to rise which then has to be met with a greater supply. The 2016 Super Bowl has the potential for even more prostitution than usual given that the Bay Area is already a well-known hot spot for the trade.
  • Gambling - Both Legal and Illegal - Costs People Millions

    Gambling - Both Legal and Illegal - Costs People Millions
    Photo: runneralan2004 / flickr / CC-BY 2.0
    Sports betting is a massive industry and the Super Bowl is the biggest betting draw of all. Billions of dollars are bet annually on the game with the books winning big most years. Nearly half the population of the United States will bet on the game in some way or another, whether it be legally in Vegas, online with an illegal bookmaker, in office and home pools, or with a good old fashioned bookie. By some accounts, illegal bets on the Super Bowl amount to 80 times that of legal bets, which are around 100 million annually.
  • People Sell Their Bodies for Tickets Every Year

    People Sell Their Bodies for Tickets Every Year
    Photo: Joe Parks / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0
    People have proven they'll do just about anything to get their hands on Super Bowl tickets, including selling their bodies. Individuals have posted all sorts of things on Craigslist that they would do for tickets, and some equally appalling things that they want in exchange for their tickets. From women selling their bodies, to a man who was willing to sell one of his testicles for a ticket, some fans are willing to do whatever it takes to go to the game.
  • Cities Often Lose Millions Hosting the Game

    Cities Often Lose Millions Hosting the Game
    Photo: rocor / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0
    Hosting the Super Bowl is often seen as an honor, but it isn't always a profitable endeavor for the host city. About one in every four host cities experience negative economic impacts thanks to the Super Bowl. The mayor of Glendale, AZ, which hosted the game in 2015, predicted that his city would likely lose $3 million just from hosting the event.
  • Drugs Fuel the Underground Super Bowl Economy

    Illegal drugs are a major part of the Super Bowl underbelly that many people don't know about. Drug rings are often closely tied with human trafficking and prostitution; there are reportedly even combos for purchase, like prostitutes that come with cocaine in package deals.

    When New York and New Jersey hosted the Super Bowl a few years ago, the cities busted a prostitution drug ring that was selling party packs aimed at appealing to the influx of Super Bowl attendees.