Of all the predictions leading up to Super Bowl LVIII, there was none more wrong than Monday Night Football host Joe Buck’s claim that some unspecified “mess” would happen in Las Vegas: “Something big is going to happen.”
It’s hard to say exactly what Buck was referring to in last week’s interview with ESPN Radio. The city has seen mass shootings and Las Vegas is where Tupac Shakur was murdered in 1996 after a fight with Mike Tyson, but fortunately, there was no disaster to speak of this time. And for locals, who were largely upset with the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix in November, the city’s first Super Bowl was much less of a disruption than Formula One.
“It’s better than F1,” said Emiy, a Showgirl street performer who takes photos with tourists for tips. ‘F1 was crazy. It was a disaster… I worked one day and went inside for an hour. There were so many people and so much construction. I honestly felt bad for all the tourists. I say, ‘You’re probably not having a good time.’
It was a different story for the Super Bowl, which resulted in Kansas City’s third Lombardi Trophy in five seasons. The crowds were manageable and, apart from two men storming the field and serious accusations of groping and harassment, the fans were largely well behaved.
San Francisco 49ers fans notwithstanding, the visitors to Las Vegas got everything they could have asked for: a dramatic overtime finish, a few days of debauchery on the Strip and a million reasons to leave behind the money they held dear. It was hard to win.
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A family of Chiefs fans walks alongside a pair of Showgirls before Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas.
In one of the countless photographs along the Strip, two fans are seen kissing.
For the Las Vegas tourism industry (emphasis on ‘industry’), Super Bowl LVIII was just another day at the office for a city that expected to generate around a billion dollars from the big game.
However, that figure is highly questionable, given the fact that Las Vegas is always packed with visitors and traditionally enjoys a surge in tourism during the Super Bowl, regardless of where the game is played.
Casinos were hoping that overconfident 49ers and Chiefs fans could improve sportsbooks’ handling (the amount wagered on a particular contest), but that may have backfired.
With the defending champion Chiefs the popular underdogs heading into Sunday, and bettors waiting to see out overtime, Las Vegas casinos appear to be the biggest losers of Super Bowl LVIII.
“We lost the game itself,” Westgate SuperBook vice president Jay Kornegay told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. ‘It was a big change for us with the Chiefs win. “We needed the 49ers to get to work.”
Don Lobmeyer is a Wichita fan who dresses up as Chiefs Santa and Ma Ho Ho Homes.
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If there was a distinction for the Las Vegas Super Bowl from previous years, it may have been the diversity of attendees, many of whom seemed to originate from outside San Francisco and Kansas City. Allegiant Stadium’s capacity of 72,000 fans certainly contained its share of Chiefs and 49ers fans, but that doesn’t describe everyone in attendance.
A Montreal man named Ritesh told DailyMail.com that he bought tickets to the game despite being a die-hard fan of the Buffalo Bills, the team Patrick Mahomes & Co. defeated in the AFC Championship to advance to the Super Bowl. LVIII.
Even a quick look up and down the Strip revealed a bevy of other NFL jerseys.
The Raiders’ attire is no surprise in Las Vegas, but the colors of the Packers, Patriots and Eagles were also frequently seen amid the sea of red.
And then there were those who were in town for the atmosphere, but not necessarily for the game itself, whose minimum ticket price was reported to be $8,333.
One of those individuals was bearded Chiefs superfan Don Lobmeyer, known as ‘Chiefs Santa.’
The Wichita native, who looks like St. Nick, donned a Patrick ‘Ma Ho Ho Homes’ t-shirt and an inflatable dinosaur costume to spend the week taking pictures with passing Chiefs fans.
But like many visitors to Las Vegas, Lobmeyer had no intention of attending the game.
‘They always ask, are you going to the Super Bowl?’ Lobmeyer told DailyMail.com. “But I would be a huge distraction, more than Taylor Swift, in this outfit.”
And Lobmeyer wasn’t the only character to make the Strip a memorable pregame scene. Las Vegas has always had Elvis impersonators and other street performers, but Super Bowl week served as an excuse for football fans to let their strange flag fly.
Rival Las Vegas showgirls try to lure visitors to a photo opportunity for tips
San Francisco superfan Albert Vann is pictured in his motorized recliner on the Strip.
San Francisco superfan Albert Vann was on the scene with his massive motorized 49ers recliner, decked out with his own scoreboards and sound system.
Other fans spent the week wearing comically oversized baseball caps, cheap plastic medallions and chains with the team logo (selling for $20 each), and any number of personalized jerseys.
A popular item among Chiefs fans and Swifties was a replica No. 87 with ‘Mr. Taylor Swift’ printed on the back in reference to tight end Travis Kelce.
There was even an attendee wearing a Ray Finkle jersey, which is an homage to the Dolphins kicker and fictional villain in Jim Carrey’s 1994 blockbuster, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.
Anywhere outside of Las Vegas, such colorful people would have seemed egregiously out of place, but Sin City has a way of normalizing everything.
In one scene, a strip club robber proudly told a couple and their two children that Friday was “family night” at his establishment.
In another, a street preacher is seen blessing a man in a full-length Sonic The Hedgehog costume, who calls himself David.
‘David,’ the preacher said to a small crowd, ‘I’m going to pray for you.’
A street preacher is seen offering a prayer for a man dressed as Sonic The Hedgehog
A pair of San Francisco 49ers fans sport oversized baseball caps before Super Bowl LVIII
An anti-circumcision protester takes a break from the demonstration to make a phone call
The “mess” Buck predicted never came to fruition, unless you count the blood-splattered fake anti-circumcision demonstrations that dogged passersby for much of the week.
In fact, everything went so well that Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Monday that “the NFL looks forward to returning” to the city for a future Super Bowl.
And it’s hard to imagine any pushback on this front.
For a city used to hosting everything from massive raves to rodeos, Super Bowl LVIII was a breath of fresh air.
“People are nicer nowadays,” Emiy said of the Super Bowl crowd. “Rodeo people, it’s a matter of chance.”
Soccer fans also felt at home in Las Vegas.
“The atmosphere is good,” Ritesh said. ‘So easy. As soon as you leave the airport, you get the feel of the atmosphere here.’