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Some say the Las Vegas Super Bowl is rigged. And not because of Taylor Swift

The photo from the fateful text showing Gerard DeCosta with the flag he said he buried under the field at Allegiant Stadium.
Tommy White
The photo from the fateful text showing Gerard DeCosta with the flag he said he buried under the field at Allegiant Stadium.

The Kansas City Chiefs are undefeated at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, and Gerard DeCosta, a construction worker who lives in Hawaii, says that may have something to do with him.

DeCosta lives almost 4,000 miles from Kansas City, but he's a major Chiefs fan and the Chiefs nurse a long and bitter rivalry against the Las Vegas Raiders. Late in 2017, his company assigned him to work on a new stadium the hated Raiders were building in Las Vegas.

"As soon as I got the opportunity, I knew what I had planned already," DeCosta recalls.

The plan: Bury a "Chiefs Kingdom" flag under the rival team's home field. Plant a curse in enemy territory.

A tweet went up picturing DeCosta in his white hardhat, standing at the construction site, holding the cheerful red and gold banner. The tweet said the flag was now encased in concrete under the middle of the playing field.

All hell broke loose.

"When this first happened, I get the phone call from the president of the Raiders. He's like, 'Did you see what's going on, you know, social media? Did they really plant this flag at the stadium?'" remembers Tommy White, the business manager and secretary treasurer of Laborers Union Local 872 in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas Laborers Union leader Tommy White with the flag he says he took from Gerard DeCosta
/ Tommy White
Tommy White
Las Vegas Laborers Union leader Tommy White with the flag he says he took from Gerard DeCosta

White tried to reassure Raiders owner Mark Davis that such a thing was impossible. Then he set about identifying and confronting this Chiefs flag troublemaker who was digging around where he wasn't supposed to.

"I tracked him down, and I was like, 'Gerard, did you really dig this flag up?' And he is like, 'I'm not gonna say I did, or I didn't.' I was like, 'Listen, it's important because they're gonna can you from the site.'"

White demanded the offending flag. DeCosta produced a flag just like the one in the photo. (Similar flags currently sell for about $14 on eBay, so it's not as if they're in short supply.) But DeCosta is cagy about what he did with The Flag. When pressed, he says he's "pleading the Fifth."

Nevertheless, the Raiders have never beaten the Chiefs at home since Allegiant Stadiumopened in 2020. So, if there is curse, it's working, and as far as a lot of Boston and Chicago fans are concerned, it wouldn't be the first time.

For Boston, there was theCurse of the Bambino. Babe Ruth dropped it on the Red Sox when the baseball team made a deal with the Yankees sending him to New York in 1920. The Red Sox had been one of the winningest teams in baseball but it was 86 years before they could celebrate another national championship.

The Chicago Cubs suffered the Curse of the Billy Goat in 1945. A tavern owner was kicked out of Wrigley Field for bringing his smelly goat into a World Series game. "Them Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more," he shouted on his way out. The Cubs blew a two-game lead and lost the series. When they did finally win the World Series in 2016, that ended a 108 year drought.

White is certain Allegiant Stadium is curse free, though he understands why so many people yearn for magic from under the sod.

"Everybody wants to believe in a conspiracy theory, right? I would love to turn around and say that, um, uh, the Raiders should have won some of those games. I mean, they come on, they lost four games in their home stadium, right? Against the Chiefs. But at the end of the day, the Chiefs had a better team," he says.

White says the Chiefs can't count on any special good luck in the big game. In fact, he says if there are any little planted curses active in Allegiant Stadium on Sunday, they'll probably be working against the Chiefs.

After all, Kansas City will be using the Raiders' locker room and the Raiders' field as they try to beat the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 58.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Frank Morris has supervised the reporters in KCUR's newsroom since 1999. In addition to his managerial duties, Morris files regularly with National Public Radio. He’s covered everything from tornadoes to tax law for the network, in stories spanning eight states. His work has won dozens of awards, including four national Public Radio News Directors awards (PRNDIs) and several regional Edward R. Murrow awards. In 2012 he was honored to be named "Journalist of the Year" by the Heart of America Press Club.