Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Super Bowl Indicator Definition

What Is the Super Bowl Indicator?

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 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 foretells a rise in the market or a bull run in the upcoming year. 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.

Key Takeaways

  • The premise of the Super Bowl indicator is the theory that a Super Bowl win for a team from the American Football Conference (AFC) of the National Football League (NFL) foretells a decline in the stock market (a bear market) in the upcoming year.
  • Conversely, a win for a team from the NFL’s National Football Conference (NFC) means the stock market will rise in the coming year (a bull market).
  • 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.

Market Indicators: InvestoTrivia

Understanding the Super Bowl Indicator

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 (Standard & Poor’s) 500 before the Dot Com years (1998-2001). However, the old maxim applies: Correlation does not imply causation.

The indicator has one very glaring caveat: It counts the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team with an NFL-leading six Super Bowl wins in all, in the NFC, because that’s where the team got its start back in 1933, as an original NFL franchise. It seemingly doesn’t matter that Pittsburgh won all its Super Bowls as an AFC team. Skeptics note that the Steelers won 27% of the Super Bowls by the time it claimed its third for the 1978 season, the year when the index got its start. Some argue that Koppett included the caveat about original NFL teams from the AFC essentially counting as NFC teams within the indicator for this reason.

As of February 2021, the indicator has been correct 40 out of 54 times, as measured by the S&P 500 Index. This is a success rate of 74%. It failed to predict a down market in both 2016 and 2017, when the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots, both original AFC teams, won Super Bowls. Also of note: 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.

The Super Bowl Indicator is an example of purely fun sports writing. There is no real connection between a football team in a particular league and the U.S. stock market; so, any relationship that can be drawn between the two is purely a coincidence. What began as an interesting column many decades ago continues to make a new headline at least once a year.

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.

S&P 500 Performance Over Past Super Bowls 

Year Winner League Conference S&P 500 Price Return Prediction
2022 Los Angeles Rams NFL NFC TBD TBD
2021 Tampa Bay Buccaneers NFL NFC 14.51% Right
2020 Kansas City Chiefs AFL AFC 15.76% Wrong
2019 New England Patriots AFL AFC 30.43% Wrong
2018 Philadelphia Eagles NFL NFC −6.24% Wrong
2017 New England Patriots AFL AFC 21.83% Wrong
2016 Denver Broncos  AFL AFC 11.96% Wrong
2015 New England Patriots  AFL AFC −0.73% Right
2014 Seattle Seahawks  Expansion team NFC 13.69% Right
2013 Baltimore Ravens  Expansion team AFC 32.39% Wrong
2012 New York Giants  NFL NFC 16.00% Right
2011 Green Bay Packers NFL NFC −1.12% Wrong 
2010  New Orleans Saints NFL NFC 15.06% Right 
2009 Pittsburgh Steelers  NFL AFC 26.46% Right
2008 New York Giants  NFL NFC −37.00% Wrong 
Article Sources
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  1. Vintage Value Investing. "The Super Bowl 54 Stock Market Indicator."

  2. The Street. "The Super Bowl Indicator Works 94% of the Time When This is True."

  3. CME Group. "What to Make of the Super Bowl Indicator."

  4. Vintage Value Investing. "The Super Bowl Stock Market Indicator."

  5. Snopes. "The Super Bowl Indicator."

  6. Herald-Tribune. "Super Bowl Predicator Fumbles Stock Market Forecast for Third Year."

  7. CNBC. "Why Markets Should Root for Giants in Super Bowl."

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