How to Buy Super Bowl Tickets and Avoid Scams

by Ryan Guina

A couple years ago, my coworker and I were discussing our bucket lists, you know, the list of things you want to accomplish or see before you die. He mentioned his dad’s biggest wish was to go to the Super Bowl, and we got on the topic of buying Super Bowl tickets. All we knew about buying Super Bowl tickets was that it is very expensive, and it helps to know someone. So we looked it up for fun. We learned that it is surprisingly easy to buy Super Bowl tickets – if you have the money to buy them on the second hand market! Otherwise, you need to know someone, or have the luck of the Irish!

How to Buy Super Bowl Tickets

Buy Super Bowl Tickets

How to Buy Super Bowl Tickets

The first thing you need to know is how the NFL distributes Super Bowl tickets. The distribution of Super Bowl tickets goes to a mixture of players, coaches and NFL personnel, season ticket holders, corporate sponsors, and the general public. Here is the Super bowl ticket distribution from Super Bowl XLII:

  • AFC Champion — 17.5 percent
  • NFC Champion — 17.5 percent
  • Host Team — 5.0 percent
  • Other 29 Teams — 34.8 percent
  • NFL — 25.2 percent

75% of all tickets go to the NFL teams, with each team in the game receiving a total of 35%, the host team receiving 5%, and the rest of the teams receiving just over 1% each. The tickets allotted to the NFL are used for corporate sponsors, the broadcast network, affiliated companies, charities, fans, and more.

NFL Random Drawing for Super Bowl Tickets

The only method the NFL has to distribute tickets to the public is through a random drawing; there is no other way for the general public to purchase tickets from the NFL. The NFL also does not sell tickets to travel or ticket agents. The lottery system is free to enter and those selected have the opportunity to purchase up to two tickets at face value. Unfortunately, there is a very limited number of available tickets, some sources stating only 500 tickets are sold to the general public in any given year.

Entries for the random drawing are accepted between Feb. 1 and June 1 of the year preceding the game and winners are notified by mail in October or November. All ticket requests must be sent via certified or registered mail.

To enter into the random Super Bowl Ticket drawing, send a letter to:

Super Bowl Random Drawing
P.O. Box 49140
Strongsville, OH 44149-0140

Please note that only one request per address is accepted and duplicate requests will be disregarded.

Buying Super Bowl Tickets from Players and Season Ticket Holders

Most teams give a set number of Super Bowl tickets to their players and personnel, then hold a random drawing for their season ticket holders to distribute the remaining tickets. This can create a secondary market for the tickets. Many of the tickets that end up in the hands of ticket agencies (see below) were purchased from season ticket holders and team personnel. Players and coaches are not permitted to resell their tickets for more than face value, but it happens under the table.

Super Bowl Ticket Trivia: The NFL’s anti-scalping policy was brought to the nation’s attention in 2005 when Vikings head coach Mike Tice was caught scalping his Super Bowl tickets. He was fined $100,000 by the NFL and let go by the Vikings the following season.

Buy from a Ticket Agency

Every major ticket agency will have Super Bowl tickets. Check out RazorGator, TickCo, StubHub, Ticketmaster. These are reputable companies and offer a guarantee, which is something you won’t get if you are buying them over Ebay, Craigslist, or from a ticket scalper. If you are going purchase Super Bowl tickets online, get them from a reputable agency.

How much do Super Bowl Tickets cost? The rate varies depending on several factors, including seat location, hype for the game, who is playing, venue, etc.

Buy from a Scalper

Caution, caution, caution! Before going this route, be sure you know the laws of the land. Scalping is not legal in every state, so you want to ensure you remain on the right side of the law. Additionally, there may be specific laws against scalping within certain cities or even on the premises of the sporting event itself. Next, recognize that you are dealing with people you don’t know and a lot of cash (try finding a scalper who will accept anything other than cash).

Do your research to find out as much as you can about the current street price of the tickets, and be wary of any seats being sold below the current rate. In short, be prepared to shell out some serious cash. You also want to do as much research as you can regarding the actual tickets. Find out what some of the security features are. Ask the scalper to see the tickets. If they don’t have them available at the moment then ask when you can meet up to see the tickets. (This is common because scalpers often work in teams and don’t want to have thousands of dollars worth of tickets on them all the time). You may wish to see several sets of tickets before you are comfortable you are receiving a legitimate ticket. I’ve heard that some venues and teams offer broker zones, so look into this.

Above all, be cautious. Be careful carrying large sums of cash (arrange to meet the ticket scalper at a predetermined time and place if necessary), and remember that with scalpers, all sales are final.

Photo credit: JohnSeb

Published or updated August 29, 2016.
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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Evan

Hysterical! I just was talking to my boss about his bucket list last Friday, and we had this very same discussion. After a few drinks and football talk – this was added!


2 Money Reasons

Wow, I had no idea what a pain it would be to acquire superbowl tickets! I knew that they were expensive, but I didn’t think they would be such a hassle to get ahold of!

I always thought the price was determined by supply and demand… But apparently not! I wonder how high the ticket prices would go if the purchases were based off of supply and demand? Maybe $5,000? maybe higher? if so, I suddenly feel very poor…


3 Ryan

The secondary market is controlled by supply and demand… there is very little supply, so even the worst tickets in the venue cost over a grand each, and the premium seats can go sky high.


4 pkamp3

If you do go the scalper route, you can often negotiate down the price of the tickets (especially if you are buying more than one). The market rate also decreases as it gets closer to game time… and tickets lose a lot of value after kick off. Scalping is one case where those late to the party benefit.

Also, scalpers have no convenience charges.


5 Ryan

All good points. But I don’t think the convenience charge matters as much when you are paying that much! 😉


6 Gary McCourt

I believe the NFL should find another way to get these tickets into the hands of the “normal blue collar fan”. Tickets should not be distributed to the rich, famious nor to corporate America. The NFL is controling this process which they consider fair because our complaints are to minor and weak to be heard over the mountain of money they receive from corporate America. Maybe a boycott of professional football by all fans for one year would teach them a lession, even though I doubt it because there will always be those picket line scabs to keep those in control in their high paying jobs.


7 Kevin Smith

I won a trip to this super bowl, my first ever NFL game.

On game day we made our way to the stadium on a tour bus and I had some beers in me. I think the prices for tickets is insane, I’m not rich, and could have used the cash!

As I’m stepping off the bus, two guys are asking if anyone wants to sell their tickets. I’m a wheeler and dealer and willing to talk. So I asked them how much they were paying. They took a look at my good seat and just said “how much you need” …. (face value is $900) … I said $5,000, he countered with $3,000. I started to walk away, and he says “hold up, I’ll go $4,000”. Hmm
He pulls out the largest wad of 100s I’d seen in real life, took him two hands to control the mound of cash. I was drooling and willing to watch from a tavern somewhere with 4k in my pocket!

Then there was that little voice … you know the one. I’ve sat in jail before regretting I didn’t listen to that little voice.
So, before the swap, I told them to hang on, I was going to call my trip coordinator for some insight, as they are Dallas natives.
I called Jodi my coordinator, and he informed me scalping is illegal … so I told the scalpers, sorry, but I had to pass. They followed me in hopes I’d change my mind. They lurked outside my bus, taunting me with the money and only being replied to with a head shaking “no”.

My truck is beyond repair, but still runs, and I could have gotten a decent used vehicle for a couple grand and still had enough left over to play with.

Half of me is kicking myself for not taking the chance, and the other half of me is glad I’m not stuck in a Dallas jail missing my flight schedule. That’s how I found this site, I am trying to look up the laws on scalping tickets in Dallas.

I had a gut feeling these guys were undercover with the police or NFL, either way, I sure could have used the loot. The game was incredible though, such an experience, and when the Packers won, is when I really got goose bumps all over and realized it was much more than just football … it’s history being made.

Here’s my photo album and videos of my trip;


8 MoneySmartGuides

I knew a bunch of tickets went to the corporate sponsors and teams in the game, but I didn’t realize how few were actually sold to the public!

Personally, I would much rather watch the game on TV. I’ve been to NFL games before and enjoy them immensely, but the Super Bowl is for the big-screen TV. After all, if you go to the game, you can’t hang out at your co-workers desk on Monday talking about the great (or lack thereof) commercials!


9 Hannah @ HowMuchIsIt

Super Bowl tickets are highly overrated. In Detroit, I was able to get tickets since my Aunt had a connection with Pittsburgh and the team. Don’t get me wrong, but the tickets are OUTRAGEOUS for what you get. If I’m going to spend $5,000 on 2 tickets for 2 hours of entertainment, I think I would rather go to Hawaii for 7 days, haha!

Anyways, for those that are seriously interested in purchasing tickets, consider checking out a cool site called SeatGeek. This site is awesome and it will spider all of the legit ticket broker sites online and constantly find you the best deal.


10 peggy

Will this random drawing also be in effect for the 2014 Super Bowl in New Jersey?
When I look at the web page it tells me this……
How can I buy tickets for Super Bowl XLVIII?
The NFL controls all ticketing for Super Bowl XLVIII and demand is expected to be very high. The greatest number of tickets will be made available to the teams participating in the game, as well as sponsors, broadcasters and other business partners. A public sale of Super Bowl XLVIII tickets is not expected at this time.


11 Ryan Guina

Peggy – yes, the random drawing has been in place for a long time. So far as I know, there are no plans to remove it at this time. The page should reflect the steps for applying to the random drawing sometime around or soon after this year’s Super Bowl. Best of luck!


12 Brett @ wstreetstocks

Great tips! I never personally purchased scalped tickets, but I have heard bad reviews from friends. The ticket agency is the best route if it is possible. I wasn’t aware of the random drawing though.


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