Time To Debunk The Super Bowl Stock Market Prediction Myth

The time has come to consider the most famous of February prognosticators. No, not Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog, but the Super Bowl winner.

On Super Bowl Sunday, February 11, will you be serving Kansas City barbecue or San Francisco cioppino in sourdough bread bowls?

More important question: Will the outcome of the game impact your investments because of something called the Super Bowl Indicator?

With pop star girlfriend Taylor Swift and NFL brother Jason among those in attendance, on January 28, 2024, Travis Kelce had 11 catches for 116 yards and one touchdown reception in Kansas City’s 17-10 AFC championship game victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

Meanwhile, that day, the San Francisco 49ers scored 17 points in an eight-minute span of the third quarter to tie the NFC championship game and then pulled away in the fourth quarter from the Detroit Lions to earn a rematch against Kansas City after losing to the Chiefs in the Super Bowl four years ago.

But what Is this Super Bowl Indicator?

According to James Chen of Investopedia, “The Super Bowl Indicator is a nonscientific barometer of the stock market. The idea behind the indicator is that a Super Bowl win for an NFL American Football Conference (AFC) team predicts a stock market decline (a bear market) in the next year. On the other hand, a win for a team from the National Football Conference (NFC) foretells a rise in the market or a bull run in the upcoming year.”

The Super Bowl Indicator is the stuff of urban legend, with people at your Super Bowl party confidently telling you how it will affect your finances.

So, if the Kansas City Chiefs win, will there be a bear market this year?

But if the San Franciso 49ers win, will there be a bull market in 2024?

Leonard Koppett, a sportswriter for The New York Times, first introduced the Super Bowl Indicator in 1978.  Up until that point, the Super Bowl Indicator had never been wrong.

At one point in time, the Super Bowl Indicator boasted a more than 90% success rate in predicting the up-or-down outcome of the S&P 500. But that was before the dotcom bubble and bust years of 1998 to 2001.

As the old maxim applies: Correlation does not imply causation. Also, there was some fudging of the data by Koppett, calling the Pittsburgh Steelers (an AFC team) an NFC team because they were one of the original NFL teams.

The Super Bowl Indicator is an example of purely whimsical sports writing. What began as a fun column many decades ago continues to make headlines every year.

As of the end of 2023, the indicator has been correct 41 out of 57 times, as measured by the S&P 500 Index. This is a success rate of around 72%.

There have been big blunders. In 2008, despite the New York Giants (NFC) winning the Super Bowl, which supposedly indicated a bull market, the stock market suffered one of the largest downturns since the Great Depression.

Recently, the indicator has been a highly untrustworthy predictor of financial results.

As Chen of Investopedia points out, “As a means of predicting the stock market, the Super Bowl Indicator is completely irrelevant: There’s no reason to believe that the winner of a football game dictates the performance of the stock market. However, that hasn’t stopped people from talking and writing about it for the past four decades.”

Here’s a dozen years of recent data to totally debunk the myth:


YearWinnerLeagueConferenceS&P 500Prediction
2023Kansas City ChiefsAFLAFC24%Wrong
2022Los Angeles RamsNFLNFC-19.44%Wrong
2021Tampa Bay BuccaneersNFLNFC14.51%Right
2020Kansas City ChiefsAFLAFC15.76%Wrong
2019New England PatriotsAFLAFC30.43%Wrong
2018Philadelphia EaglesNFLNFC-6.24%Wrong
2017New England PatriotsAFLAFC21.83%Wrong
2016Denver BroncosAFLAFC11.96%Wrong
2015New England PatriotsAFLAFC-0.73%Right
2014Seattle SeahawksExpansionNFC13.69%Right
2013Baltimore RavensExpansionAFC32.39%Wrong
2012New York GiantsNFLNFC16.00%Right


You might say the Super Bowl Indicator is on a losing streak. In the last 12 years, the indicator has only been right four times for a success rate of 33%. Any NFL coach with a record like that gets fired in no time.

The only prediction I am confident of is that during the Super Bowl television broadcast, there will be many reaction shots of Taylor Swift.

Enjoy the game. But don’t bet your portfolio on the results.

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