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The Billion Dollar Game: Behind-the-Scenes of the Greatest Day In American Sport - Super Bowl Sunday Hardcover – January 6, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (January 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385523548
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385523547
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.4 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,724,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Book Description
One hundred million spectators.
An economic footprint larger than the GDP of 25 nations.
Zero room for error.

An inside view of the 365 days leading up to the greatest event in American sport.

More Americans watch the Super Bowl than vote in presidential elections. Cities compete for the lucrative rights to host a game, and ad agencies, merchandisers, security personnel, and celebrity party planners quarterback their own teams starting a year in advance. Super Bowl Sunday is a national holiday for sports fans, who purchase 1.5 million large-screen TVs in the week before the game, attend one of 7.5 million parties, and eat more food than on any day other than Thanksgiving (according to the California Avocado Commission, Americans consume more than eight million pounds of guacamole on this single day).

In The Billion Dollar Game, New York Times bestselling author Allen St. John gets rare access to the people and corporations that mastermind this iconic event. He goes into the FOX Sports broadcast booth with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, and the longtime director/producer team of Artie Kempner and Richie Zyontz. St. John gets a front-row seat in the Madison Avenue conference rooms where the massive Anheuser-Busch campaign is being tested in focus groups, and he takes readers behind-the-scenes with stadium architect Peter Eisenman, and the billion-dollar deals brokered in Phoenix preceding Super Bowl XLII. Covering the political snafus, the organizational nightmares, and the well-oiled hype machine, St. John weaves a fascinating portrait of the National Football League and the Super Bowl--and examines how all the elements miraculously come together to create the biggest cultural phenomenon in American sport.

Amazon Exclusive: Allen St. John on The Billion Dollar Game

Why did I write a book about what goes on behind the scenes at the Super Bowl? Because no one had ever done it before.

My editor Jason Kaufman, who was also the editor of The Da Vinci Code, called me up one day to talk about our next book project and he wondered if I’d be interested in writing a book about the Super Bowl, not only as a sporting event, but as a cultural phenomenon and an economic engine, and even as an unofficial national holiday. I immediately recognized this as an amazing idea, and we were both shocked that no one had ever done it before.

Once I started writing, I understood why. This wasn’t an easy book to write. The Super Bowl is so enormous that all the stories could fill 10 books. I was lucky enough to find the very best stories--watching a world-class architect build a state-of-the-art stadium to host the game, the backstage preparations for the sizzling hot Playboy party, the controlled chaos in the FOX Sports television truck, that heart-stopping moment when they lost power only moment before Prince’s half-time show. Over more than a year of reporting the book, I got unprecedented access to the Super Bowl, and the people who make it run.

The result is a book packed with star-studded stories--and an amazing conclusion--that will thrill any sports fan. But The Billion Dollar Game is also a business book in the best sense of the term. The people who make the Super Bowl happen are all the very best at what they do, and from them can’t help but provide the kind of lessons that will help you handle those third-and-three moments in your life and your career. And, of course, watching all of this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and The Billion Dollar Game is my chance to share it. I hope you learn as much--and have as much fun--as I did.

(Photo © Jennifer May)

Review

“After reading The Billion Dollar Game, you speak the language of the Super Bowl in a different way. You start sliding out facts and anecdotes, behind-the-scenes nuggets about camera angles, stadium construction, halftime shows, party planning and guacamole consumption—all the really interesting stuff that the general sports fan never glimpses. You’ll want to thank Allen St. John for writing a terrific book.”
—Leigh Montville, New York Times bestselling author of The Big Bam and The Mysterious Montague

“If anyone knows how to write an inside account of a big-time American sporting event, it’s Allen St. John. The Billion Dollar Game is a riveting, fun, behind-the-scenes account . . . it shows you the Super Bowl like you’ve never seen it.”
—Christopher Russo, host of Mad Dog Unleashed and New York Times bestselling author of The Greatest Sports Arguments of All Time

“Illuminating….An insider’s look at a billion-dollar industry and a game that is much more than just a game.”
--Sports Illustrated

"St. John's narrative is laced with intimate portraits and fresh figures–did you know the resale value of a stadium's worth of tickets exceeds $500 million, or that Americans consume eight million pounds of guacamole on game day?–that enliven the organizational challenge of carrying off the world's biggest bash without a hitch."
--Time.com

“[Allen St. John] looks at the Super Bowl from a non-football perspective...how money weaves through all of it in making this a billion dollar event.”
--Dallas Morning News

“It’s an absorbing, thorough look at the people and corporations that make the game possible.”
--Tampa Bay Tribune Online

More About the Author

An award-winning journalist, Allen St. John is the author of seven books, including The Billion Dollar Game and Clapton's Guitar, and co-author of The Mad Dog 100. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Men's Journal, Maxim, Playboy, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, Esquire.com, theatlantic.com, and Salon.com, and he blogs for Forbes.com. His work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing. A graduate of the University of Chicago, he lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his family.

Customer Reviews

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I love the anecdotes, inside information, and finding out about all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes.
Allen Barra
The subtitle on this book states that it will take you "behind the scenes of the greatest day in American sport...Super Bowl Sunday".
Zachary Koenig
Then its "sports fans purchase 1.5 million large-screen TVs in the week before the game," but how many represent ADDED sales?
Loyd E. Eskildson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Al Mercuro on January 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
What a great book for anyone wanting to know what it feels like to be behind the scenes at the Super Bowl! This book should be required reading for any college student in business or special events. Allen St. John as a unique talent for writing that makes you feel that he is just having a conversation with you and his chapter on the man in charge of the Super Bowl for the NFL is right on, makes me feel like I know this man personally. I highly recommend this book!

Al Mercuro
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Brown on February 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this look at the Super Bowl. The author focuses on Super Bowl XLII in Phoenix. The book is not about football as much as it is about the cultural phenomenon that is the game. He looks at how stadiums are built and funded since hosting super bowls was how Phoenix justified the cost of the building. Television broadcasting is examined and the author describes in detail how the production is done and of course discusses the commercials. A good portion of the book, more than I cared for, was about the Playboy party. I would have been interested in a chapter about the party, but about 3 chapters are devoted to it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Zachary Koenig on January 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
The subtitle on this book states that it will take you "behind the scenes of the greatest day in American sport...Super Bowl Sunday". Well, author Allen St. John delivered superbly on that promise.

Basically, this book takes you through the lion's share of the preparation that goes into pulling off perhaps the biggest logistical nightmare in sporting history...the NFL Super Bowl. From choosing a stadium (heck, BUILDING a stadium!), coordinating the crowd, throwing the parties, and broadcasting the on-field action, among many other areas, St. John takes you along for the ride as he begins to truly understand the magnitude of the events he is witnessing.

As a lifelong football fan, I have always watched the Super Bowl, but never really researched the kind of work that goes into making it all run smoothly (or at least as close to that definition as possible). St. John actually makes it fun, too, as his interviews with the key orchestrators of the event are always revealing without being pushy or overly dramatic...he's just a guy trying to wrap his head around everything.

There are really only two complaints I have about the book: First, is the prolonged focus on the building of the new stadium in Tempe, Arizona to host the Big Game. It almost seemed as if St. John's original goal was to show the kind of economic impact a new stadium could have on a particular reason, but then decided to broaden his scope. Also, I was left a little bit wanting by the ending; more specifically the fact that so little was actually written about the actual Super Bowl in question. St. John does a remarkable job of showing his readers the build-up to the event, but fizzles a bit when actually describing the events that made it all pay off.

All in all, though, this book is a fun little read for all NFL fans (or anyone in the marketing/advertising/production fields!) that will leave you wondering how it will all come together this February.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Susan Lett on September 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book helps kids who love sports learn how important marketing is in real life.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joseph C. Sweeney on January 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A great idea for a book, pulled off nicely by author Allen St. John. I could have used a little less on the Playboy party (which has been cancelled for the 09 game) and more on the broadcast of the game. The director and producer for Fox were fascinating characters; very interesting stuff from St. John.

A thoroughly enjoyable book. Highly recommended for all sports fans!
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Format: Paperback
This is a really terrific behind-the-scenes look at the biggest game in the US. The writing is vivid and engaging, providing a detailed look at every aspect of what it takes to put on the big show. St. John is a really writer, a few other reviewers site the minute details, and I think that's a real draw. From pregame shows, to the actual broadcast, to post-parties and all the way to the guy selling the "World Championship" hats within minutes of the end of the game. No stone goes unturned with St. John. Great book.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Fran S. Beilinson on January 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
St. John makes the case (and who could argue?) that the Super Bowl is one of, if not the, biggest day in American culture, judged purely by how many people watch the same event at the same time. The World Series takes place over a number of games, March Madness is even more prolonged, and in any non-Obama year the game way outshines any presidential inauguration or campaign speech. So what he does, very, very well is go into the business deals, the careers, the planning that goes on off-stage. The Super Bowl turns out to be a year-round industry that's almost separate from the rest of the NFL season. Don't buy this for insights into the action on the field...that's not the subject. But for insights into how Fox producers pull off the show, how the architects design about a new stadium, how the parties and the hype come together, this is the book. And it's a good read. Strongly recommend it.
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