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The Billion Dollar Game: Behind the Scenes of the Greatest Day In American Sport - Super Bowl Sunday Kindle Edition

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Length: 274 pages

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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)


"Entertaining. . . . Details the history, trivia and downright weirdness behind this colossal event."--New York Post

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

"A tribute to the people who bring us the game, the people who broadcast the game, the people who market beer during the game and the people who hold parties before the game."--The New York Times

"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

“[Allen St. John] looks at the Super Bowl from a non-football 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

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 262 KB
  • Print Length: 274 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385523548
  • Publisher: Anchor (December 24, 2008)
  • Publication Date: January 6, 2009
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001NLL81U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #844,536 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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,,, and, and he blogs for 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

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 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 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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was a really interesting book to read about the Super Bowl. If you're looking for a book about the game than this is not that book but if you're interested in everything that goes into the game than I think this book will be extremely interesting.

Allen St. John looks at all aspects of what makes the Super Bowl an event. This book mostly focuses on the build up to Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Arizona. He talks to the architect of University of Phoenix Stadium and uncovers the process for a city/state to attract a Super Bowl to their area of the country. Readers find out what a host city has to provide to even be considered by the NFL.

St. John was also granted access to the FOXSports football broadcasting "A-team" to give an insider look of what goes on during the two weeks building up to the game for the announcers and sideline reporters preparing for a game that billions of people around the world will be watching. He also shares what goes on in the production truck and for the producer and network the build up for the game starts at least a year in advance. He discusses the dress rehearsal that occurs with high school football players standing in for the pros a few days before so that the producer can make sure the camera are in the correct places.

Super Bowl Sunday is the only day that people are looking forward to the commercials. St. John joins Budweiser and its advertising agency to see what goes in to creating a winning Super Bowl commercial. From the planning stage, to the audience testing, than on air and for the all important USA Today score on Monday morning.

The Saturday night before the big game St. John takes readers to the Playboy party. This party is considered THE party of Super Bowl week.
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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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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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