Super Bowl Rigged: Fake News Story Spreads Conspiracy Theory Online

Was the Super Bowl rigged?

For those who turned to Facebook or Twitter the day after the Seattle Seahawks trounced the Denver Broncos, it may have seemed that way. An article made the rounds alleging a game fix organized by Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who was supposedly paid off to let the Seahawks win.

But the report alleging the Super Bowl was rigged was in fact fake, and those who actually bothered to read the story learned that quickly. The story was posted on Huzlers, a knockoff of The Onion that hosts other fake news stories, and at a glance was quite clearly made up.

“After The Seattle Seahawks victory over the Denver Broncos at the NFL’s 48th Super Bowl with a final score of 43-8, NFL officials have just discovered that the game was most likely rigged,” the report started. “NFL officials have just found clues that might prove the game was rigged. Officials believe the Broncos intentionally lost the championship in exchange for a large amount of money.”

It would have been a strange motivation to throw the biggest game in the world, especially given that the Super Bowl champions get an $83,000 bonus for winning the game and many players have clauses built into their contract for further bonuses.

But after this introduction the Super Bowl rigged report loses all semblance of a real story, noting that Super Bowl referee Terry McAulay overhead Peyton Manning asking Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll “When are you going to pay up?”

The story then went on to compare the Super Bowl to another famous rigged sports championship, the 1919 World Series thrown by the Chicago White Sox.

Though obviously fake, the report still made the rounds online, getting more than 3,000 tweets and close to 30,000 likes on Facebook. Some of it was tongue in cheek, but others who shared it seemed to genuinely believe that the Super Bowl was rigged.