Taylor Swift left Arrowhead Stadium with Kansas City NFL star Travis Kelce after cheering him on in his Sunday game while seated next to his mother. And yes, there’s a political angle here, thanks to the likes of right-wing personality Charlie Kirk—and thanks to Kelce’s own decisions. At age 33, he’s presumably contemplating what his life after the NFL will look like.
Swift’s attendance at the game followed rumors that she and Kelce were dating, as well as him publicly reiterating an invitation to her to come to a game. All this focused attention on Kelce and his recent endorsement decisions, which are legitimately interesting. In the wake of the right-wing boycott of Bud Light for its promotion with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney, Kelce appeared in an ad for Bud Light. Last week, he appeared in a Pfizer commercial for COVID-19 and flu vaccination.
“With my schedule, saving time is key,” Kelce wrote on Instagram, alongside the video. “The CDC says you can get this season’s updated COVID-19 shot when you get your flu shot if you’re due for both. That’s why I got two shots in one stop! Ask your doctor or pharmacist if it would be right for you. You can also visit CDC’s vaccines.gov to learn more and schedule an appointment.”
This is not a guy looking to steer clear of controversy—he’s making money while telling us something about his values. He surely had other, equally lucrative endorsement offers. Kelce had taken some incoming fire over the Bud Light endorsement, including predictable labels like “woke.” But having Swift show up cheering for him renewed the attention on those decisions in predictably gross ways.
Ha ha ha, Charlie Kirk is so clever! See, there’s a very small chance of myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, for some people following COVID-19 vaccination. Taylor Swift has been a celebrity for her entire adult life, so her relationships have played out publicly and she has sometimes written songs about them following breakups. That’s a real knee-slapper.
Immediately before Sunday’s game but after Kelce’s invitation to Swift was public, right-wing sports commentator Clay Travis came up with this gem:
The idea that Kelce’s agents somehow hoodwinked him into two endorsements that Republicans wouldn’t like is insulting to his intelligence and pretty silly; if anything, this was a clever and effective troll. But Travis was all in. He spent the rest of Sunday tweeting through the response, and OutKick, his right-wing sports site, ran a series of insulting social media posts about Swift, Kelce, and anyone else they could drag into the story. (No link to that trash. Find it yourself.) With influencers like Travis and Kirk whipping things up, the outrage flowed freely.
But here’s the thing: Swift and Kelce are huge stars—one a wee bit bigger than the other—in their respective fields, and they’ve made the decisions they’ve made, including Kelce’s endorsements and Swift pushing voter registration and making sure her “Eras” tour movie was made under an interim agreement with SAG-AFTRA, all with an understanding of the likely political fallout. The rage that we see at a big macho white guy daring to not stay in line with the right-wing culture wars is telling, as is the specific attack on his masculinity. But Kelce clearly decided that he was fine with that when he made his endorsement decisions. Basically, this is yet another thing Republicans are welcome to die mad about.
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