Thanks to such high TV ratings, the Super Bowl marks the most expensive commercial airtime a company can buy. Companies do their best to grab viewers' attentions, and the idea that "sex sells" isn't a new one. In 1973, Farrah Fawcett's Noxzema commercial featured the blond bombshell rubbing shaving cream on the face of New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath. In a not-so-subtle sexual innuendo, he says, "I'm so excited, I'm gonna get creamed!"
The night before 1999's Super Bowl XXXIII, Atlanta Falcons player Eugene Robinson was arrested on a charge of soliciting sex from a prostitute in Miami — while his wife was in bed at their hotel. After offering an undercover officer $40 for oral sex, he played alongside his team in the championship game, eventually losing to the Denver Broncos.
Sexy brunettes seemed to rule the small screen during Super Bowl ads throughout the '90s. First, there was Cindy Crawford's 1992 Pepsi commercial, which featured the stunning supermodel sipping from a can while young boys stared from afar.
In Ali Landry's 1998 Doritos commercial, she makes guys swoon with her laundromat acrobatics. The successful ad made headlines and "The Doritos Girl" kicked off her TV and film career.
It was the "wardrobe malfunction" seen around the world. During the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, Justin Timberlake pulled at a part of Janet Jackson's costume and part of her breast was revealed, covered with nipple jewelry. The now-iconic event became known as Nipplegate, and Justin said he was "shocked and appalled" by the incident.
In the wake of Nipplegate, the NFL imposed a five-second delay on halftime performances. For the following six years, only classic male rockers like Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, and Tom Petty stepped on the Super Bowl stage. It wasn't until 2011 that another woman — Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas — performed during the halftime show. Madonna's 2012 performance was the most watched in the history of the Super Bowl, and in 2013, Beyoncé took the stage.
2004 launched the Lingerie Bowl, the championship game for a female football league, where players wore helmets, shoulder pads, elbow pads, knee pads, garters, bras, and underwear. It began as a pay-per-view halftime special, but the game was canceled in 2007, 2008, and 2009 for a variety of reasons.
When the league shifted to a Spring season, that meant no more Super Bowl timing, which lessened the Lingerie Bowl's popularity. On Jan. 10, 2013, the league rebranded itself as Legends Football League because its credibility suffered over its previous name and the skimpy uniforms.
In 2010, in the wake of a sexual assault allegation (his second), quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers was suspended for the first six games — reduced to four — before leading his team to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the Green Bay Packers. The following year, he married wife Ashley Harlan and the pair is expecting their second child in the Spring.
One major controversy surrounding the Super Bowl is the longheld idea that it marks one of the biggest sex-trafficking events in the US. For years stories have come out about prostitution cases, and although the NFL has denied and brushed off scandals, law enforcement officials report a spike in trafficking each year ahead of the big game. A 2011 report on the issue concludes that there's more rumor than truth to the controversy, but with so much coverage on the topic, sex trafficking remains linked to the Super Bowl.
Each year, the sexy Super Bowl ads continue — and sometimes end up banned before the game even airs. During Megan Fox's 2010 Motorola commercial, the Hollywood bombshell snapped photos of herself in a bathtub. The following year, Kim Kardashian's Skechers ad featured her in skimpy spandex, running her hands along her body and teasing a male trainer.
Meanwhile, PETA's 2011 "Go Veg" campaign commercial was banned for being sexually explicit. As a parody of porn casting, the ad showed women eating vegetables in suggestive ways, and although it never aired, the commercial earned a lot of press and thousands of YouTube hits.
Sports superstition is nothing new, but in recent years, blame has been placed on the wives and girlfriends of popular players. Toward the end of the 2007 football season, Jessica Simpson attended a Dallas Cowboys game to watch then-boyfriend Tony Romo play against the Eagles, and she was largely credited with "distracting" the quarterback. Likewise, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hasn't won a Super Bowl since being with his supermodel wife, Gisele Bündchen, which some say is no coincidence.
Beyoncé's 2013 halftime-show performance definitely brought sexy to the Super Bowl stage. The singer reunited with her Destiny's Child bandmates, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, and she rocked out with new and old hits. People even joked that her performance caused the infamous blackout that took place inside the New Orleans Superdome moments later.