1.3 Billion Chicken Wings: How Many People Could We Feed With All That Super Bowl Food?
The first Sunday in February’s right around the corner, and that means one thing: It’s Super Bowl time! The big game (and its surrounding, irresistible spectacle) makes for one of the most-watched annual sporting events in the world. The time-honored American tradition has families across the nation cheering on their favorite teams as they enjoy epic amounts of finger foods, dips and wings.
At WFP USA, we’re always thinking about food – even as we get ready to watch the Chiefs take on the Buccaneers. With Super Bowl LV fast approaching, we can’t help but think about how much money Americans spend on the Super Bowl and what those dollars could mean to hungry people around the world.
In all, Americans shelled out more than $17 billion dollars on food, drinks, gear and party supplies for the 2020 Super Bowl. That’s more than twice the United Nations World Food Programme’s (WFP) entire funding for the same year. And each year, between 130-140 million people globally tune in to watch the game. That’s just about the same number of desperately hungry people we’re scaling up to reach with food and other aid in 2021: 138 million.
There are other parallels. The first Super Bowl was played in 1967, making it 54 years old. That’s just a few years younger than the U.N. World Food Programme’s six decades of fighting hunger across the globe.
The Snack Bowl
The feats of athleticism on the field are impressive, but let’s be honest – snacks are the real star of the game. So much so that the U.S. Department of Agriculture says Super Bowl Sunday is America’s second largest food consumption day – right after Thanksgiving.
We go big on game day: Americans will consume roughly 112 million gallons of beer, 28 million pounds of chips and a mind-boggling 1.3 billion chicken wings during the Super Bowl.
That’s four wings for every man, woman and child in the U.S. or enough to encircle the Earth three times, says the National Chicken Council. And if you were to spread the eight million pounds of guacamole we’re about to eat across a full-length football field, it’d reach a height of 12 feet.
The U.N. World Food Programme distributes an equally impressive amount of food every year: 4.4 million metric tons. In our standard food bags, that much food would also circle the Earth nearly three times, and it weighs as much as 389 Eiffel Towers. And yet, we are so very far short of reaching all the people who need our help.
What most of us are really tuning in for…
The ads, of course. And those ads are big money. Last year, a 30-second spot cost around $5.6 million dollars, and Super Bowl ad revenue reached a total of $336 million bucks. Between the croaking frogs, clomping Clydesdales, British villains and Eminem in a Chrysler, American companies spend enough money on ads every year to send a nutritious meal to all 690 million hungry people around the world right now.
The same can be said for viewers. The average fan spends about $75 dollars in preparation for game day. It just so happens that we can send an emergency box of food that will feed a family of five for a month for the exact same amount.
Have an (expensive) seat
The Kansas City Chiefs will meet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this year at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium. While most of the stadium’s 65,000 seats will stay empty this year due to COVID-19, the average Super Bowl ticket in a normal year costs fans anywhere from $4,220 to $60,000 for private box seats. For the price of even the cheapest seat, we could send school meals to more than 80 kids for an entire year. At the high end? That would be 1,200 students with full bellies, January through December.
Cheer on the fight against global hunger
Our collective passion for the big game is an inspiring thing. It’s a reminder that when we really care about something, we have the capacity as a country – and as a world – to go big. So as you’re munching on wings or crunching on nachos this Super Bowl Sunday, think about donating a school meal to a child or a box of food to a family in need. The fight against global hunger is as big as it gets – but it’s one we can win.