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Why do Super Bowl MVPs go to Disney?

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The Super Bowl tradition of a player from the championship-winning team being named the big game’s most valuable player and proclaiming that they’re going to Disneyland or Disney World has become a fixture of the postgame festivities in recent decades.

The tradition’s origins can be traced to a 1987 dinner party hosted by then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner at Disneyland with his wife, Jane Breckenridge, and several celebrities in attendance according to ESPN. Acclaimed aviators Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager were at the gathering and Breckenridge asked them what they planned to do after such an adventurous feat, to which Rutan said, “Well, we’re going to Disneyland.”

Breckenridge later told Eisner that the line would be a good promotional campaign, which prompted Disney to orchestrate its “What’s next?” campaign with the next Super Bowl MVP as the planned figurehead for the campaign.

The first Super Bowl MVP to utter the now-iconic phrase was New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms, whose team defeated the Denver Broncos 39-20 in Super Bowl XXI in 1987. As he was walking off the field, Simms was asked by a camera what he was going to do next to which he responded, “I’m going to go to Disney World!”

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The Pro Football Hall of Famer turned longtime broadcaster later acknowledged he was paid $50,000 for the promotion. His quip was turned into an advertisement that aired on TV the day after the game, and Disney rolled out the red carpet for Simms and his family at Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom per ESPN and DisneyParks Blog.

The latest player to join the tradition was Super Bowl LVIII MVP Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, whose team defeated the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 in overtime at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The win secured the Chiefs’ second-consecutive Super Bowl title and their fourth overall Super Bowl championship. 

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Mahomes was also named Super Bowl MVP of last year’s game when the Chiefs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 38-35 – after which he went to Disneyland in California. He was also the MVP of Super Bowl LIV when the Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers 31-20.

Mahomes’ three Super Bowl MVP honors equal the three earned by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, who was honored after the team’s titles in 1982, 1983 and 1990. 

Former New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady currently holds the record for most Super Bowl MVP awards with five – all but one of which he won while playing for the Patriots.

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The honor moves him past former quarterbacks Bart Starr of the Green Bay Packers, Terry Bradshaw of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Eli Manning of the New York Giants, who each won the award on two occasions.

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