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The Super Bowl & the Shutdown: A Disaster in the Making?

The fast-food spread President Trump served to the Clemson Tigers football team.
President Trump rewarded the Clemson Tigers for their national championship with a smorgasbord of fast-food burgers. How could the Super Bowl champs possibly decline an invitation to the White House now? Photo by The White House (flickr) [public domain].
  • The partial government shutdown has stretched to a record 24 days. 
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, the site of Super Bowl 53, is in a state of relative chaos. 
  • Meanwhile President Trump is feeding his visitors fast food, which can’t be a huge draw for the eventual Super Bowl champs.

The ongoing government shutdown, which has reached a record 24 days, has further intertwined American football and American politics.

Just yesterday, President Trump welcomed the NCAA champion Clemson Tigers to the White House. But because many White House workers have been furloughed, the spread at the party wasn’t the usual fare. Trump, paying for the meal himself, “splurged” for fast-food burgers and pizza.


The football/politics ties will run even deeper if the government isn’t up and running before the Super Bowl (Feb. 3rd). The shutdown has led to staffing shortages at most  major US airports, including Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta. That’s caused wait times to balloon, reaching well over an hour on Monday.

In case you were unaware, Hartsfield-Jackson is the world’s busiest airport and Atlanta is the site of Super Bowl 53.


The NFL, itself, is likely less concerned with airport wait times than the politics of its halftime show, which continues to be the source of controversy.

The league originally eschewed Atlanta’s rich hip-hop scene and booked blindingly white Maroon 5 to perform. After much backlash, the halftime show will now be a tripartite affair with Maroon 5, Travis Scott, and Atlanta’s own Big Boi.

Below, we look at the biggest news of the day through our usual odds-making lens.

Government Shutdown Odds

Government Shutdown Props SBD’s Odds
Odds the shutdown ends before the Super Bowl (Feb. 3) 1/4
Odds the start of the Super Bowl is delayed by the shutdown 90/1

There’s no sign of a deal, but the Super Bowl is still almost three weeks away. Call us optimists.

Trump’s approval rating continues to plummet as the shutdown drags on. Nothing matters more to this President than being liked and, the longer the shutdown goes, the harder it will become to ignore the reality that he is not.

When you add in the potential for Trump to fund his border wall — the sticking point to the shutdown — through a declaration of emergency, it’s hard to see this lasting another 19 days.

Another 19 days would be almost double the length of what is already the longest shutdown in history.

Airport Odds

If the shutdown is still going at the time of the Super Bowl … SBD’s Odds
O/U average wait times at LAX to fly to Atlanta on Friday, Feb. 2nd 19:30
 O/U average wait time for security lineups at Hartsfield-Jackson airport on Monday, Feb. 4th 1:44:59

As touched on in the section above, it’s not likely that we’ll still be dealing with the shutdown on Super Bowl weekend. But if we are, travellers should brace themselves. LAX is dealing with the shutdown pretty well; average wait times were only around 15 minutes on Monday.

The same can’t be said of Hartsfield-Jackson.


The longer the shutdown has gone, the more TSA workers have been calling in sick. (Not getting paid will give you a real bad headache.) Can you imagine how depleted the staff will be if this is still going on 2.5 weeks from now?

Super Bowl 53 Halftime Odds

Will the following performers take a knee during the halftime show? SBD’s Odds
Travis Scott 1/1
Big Boi 3/2
Adam Levine 4/1

All three performers have been criticized for accepting the gig due, mostly, to the NFL’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick and its generally antiquated approach to racial equality.

Scott was the only one who did anything about it, requiring the league to make a $500,000 donation to Dream Corps, a non-profit focused on social activism, before accepting the gig.

There’s a good chance it won’t stop there since Scott’s reputation in his hometown is kind of on the line.

White House Invitation Odds

White House Invitation Props SBD’s Odds
Odds the winning team visits the White House 7/5
Odds the winning team declines an invitation to the White House 2/1
Odds the winning team does not receive an invitation to the White House 3/1

Last year, when the Super Bowl-champion Eagles were invited to White House, only five players said they were going to go. That led to Trump cancelling the invite.

It’s tradition for the President to invite the Super Bowl champs to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but this President doesn’t do things by the book (perhaps because of literacy issues).

After last year’s debacle, there’s a realistic chance the winners don’t get invited (unless the Patriots win).

There’s also a very realistic chance the winners decline an invite, which puts the likelihood of the Super Bowl-winners actually going to the White House well below 50/50.

Super Bowl Dinner Odds

What will President Trump serve the Super Bowl 53 champions as a main course? SBD’s Odds
BBQ 3/1
fast-food buffet 12/1
steak and lobster 20/1
tortilla chips and seven-layer dip 80/1
Totino’s pizza rolls 125/1
TV dinners 150/1
Little Debbie snack cakes 150/1
gluten-free waffles 250/1
Mexican food 1000/1
salads 5000/1

The shutdown will be over when/if the Super Bowl champions visit the White House, but that doesn’t mean Trump’s culinary choices will be any better.

BBQ would be the safe choice and Trump has gone that route before. It would be a bigger favorite, however, this is the President who invited Kanye West to the White House to talk prison reform and manufacturing. He makes the prediction business a very tricky occupation.

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