Sex Trafficking and the Super Bowl

In less than a week, thousands will descend on MetLife Stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos. This year’s big game will generate literally millions in commercial slots alone, forgetting the income generated from ticket sales, food and alcohol sales, and NFL-related events. But it’s not just large corporations and local businesses looking to make a profit during the festivities. At all major sporting events, the criminal underworld of sex trafficking and human exploitation thrives and grows around the event, but there is none so lucrative for traffickers as the Super Bowl. The reason traffickers target large events is to meet the increased demand for illicit sex that results from the influx of people, particularly men, into one area for a recreational event.

Over the last few years there has been a noticeable increase in trafficking during past Super Bowl games. For example at the 2009 Super Bowl, 24 children brought to the event for sex were rescued.[1] Further, Miami saw an increase of 10,000 prostitutes in advance of the big event. Finally, at the 2011 Super Bowl, Dallas area police arrested 133 for underage prostitution.[2]

While these statistics give us some sense of the issue, they do not reveal the entire picture. Tracking this covert crime is challenging.  Many states laws do not distinguish between victims of sex trafficking, including minors, and those engaged in voluntary prostitution. For this reason, incidents of trafficking often go unreported for fear of prosecution. However, host cities, law enforcement, and anti-trafficking groups are becoming increasingly aware of the connection between major events and sex trafficking operations and are taking steps to stamp out this criminal activity.

The New Jersey Human Trafficking Task Force, as well as community groups dedicated to fighting human trafficking are taking proactive steps to combat the sex trafficking. Their efforts include targeted outreach efforts to assist potential victims and at-risk individuals who may be exploited during this year’s Super Bowl and the weeks leading up to it. Additionally, other organizations like the Polaris Project have been working with local organizations, community groups, and law enforcement to coordinate outreach and community awareness events and to provide training and technical assistance in an effort to combat sex trafficking throughout the event.

It is our hope that Super Bowl Sunday and similar sporting events will one day be celebrated without sexual exploitation. Until then, it is the charge of anti-trafficking activists to engage a large audience by spreading awareness and to support organizations currently fighting this heinous crime.

Please join Freedom 4/24 in raising awareness and support for our partner organizations by sharing this article, learning more about what current organizations are doing to combat sex trafficking around the Super Bowl, and by praying for freedom for the exploited.

For more information about the NJ Human Trafficking Task Force please visit their website or contact them at 973-929-3064.

If you suspect trafficking, contact your local police and the 24-hour National Human Trafficking hotline at 888-373-7888.

 Article contributed by: Sarah Romero, Freedom 4/24 Awareness Volunteer

[1] U.S. Department of Justice, Project Safe Childhood, The National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction, August 2010, 33.

[2] Meghan Casserly, "Sex and The Super Bowl: Indianapolis Puts Spotlight on Teen Sex Trafficking," Forbes, February 20, 2012,