Donna Kelce has never been like most moms, especially when it comes to football. When her NFL superstar sons, Jason and Travis Kelce, were boys, Super Bowl parties in their Ohio home were such epic affairs that she let them stay up way past bedtime, even on a school night. The boys’ baseball, hockey, and lacrosse teammates would fill the house, chowing down on wings, pizza, brownies, and cookies, riding high on the adrenaline of the big game.
“They were usually overnight [parties] — they’d then be up all night long playing video games after the Super Bowl,” Donna tells POPSUGAR, holding her finger up to her lips. “Shh! That’s probably why they were sleeping in class.”
But even those Super Bowl Sunday all-nighters can’t compare to how Donna will be celebrating this weekend, when her younger son, Travis, will take the field at tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs in Las Vegas on Feb. 11 for Super Bowl LVIII, in pursuit of his third win in four visits to the title game.
While headlines have been focused on how Travis’s girlfriend, Taylor Swift, will jet to Vegas from Japan after her Saturday-night Tokyo show, his OG biggest fan is honed in on the full day off festivities: Donna will be kicking off the day early at a morning pregame party and riding the wave well into the night at a postgame party. “It’s so much fun and I love to enjoy it with the rest of the families, especially the moms and dads of the other players,” Donna says, noting that she’s particularly bonded with punter Tommy Townsend’s parents, Susan and Clay. “It’s really a joy.”
She’s come a long way from hosting kids snacking around her house to a prime spot in stadium boxes at recent games. “The energy is electric, especially when a touchdown happens for the team that you want,” she says of her suite access. “Usually, if it’s Travis’s game, I’m in the front seat because I’m the mom,” she says. “They automatically let me sit there.”
While photos of Donna and a certain red-lipped songstress are often now the biggest photos to come out of a game, she says not all box seats are created equal, especially at away games. “It’s tough when you’re a guest of someone else’s suite,” she says. “You kind of have to tone it down instead of jumping up and down. It’s not as fun.”
In fact, she often turns down those offers and opts for the stands. “I feel better and feel like I can be excited for what’s happening on the field,” Donna says.
Through experience, Donna has also learned that closer isn’t always better. She was “extremely fortunate” to score a front-row seat one time, but she quickly found herself battling cameras and booms for a view. “I had to go watch the game at home,” she quips.
After all, strategizing around a game is what Donna does best. In fact, she’s taken on her own C-suite position on the sidelines this year, partnering with Ziploc as its chief leftovers officer. In the role, she calls attention to the staggering amount of food waste generated at watch parties — an estimated 18 million pounds just last year, the equivalent of 290 football fields of pizza.
As shameless as she was about letting her boys stay up all night, she also shows up armed with Ziplocs to parties without an ounce of guilt: “Trust me, the host does not want to put all that food back in her refrigerator.”
While Super Bowl snacks may not seem as conducive to having a second life as Thanksgiving leftovers, Donna says it’s all about sprinkling in some creativity. She suggests using the chicken from wings to make chicken and rice soup, throwing extra cheese slices into a skillet to make pasta alfredo, or even just chopping up veggies and proteins to top premade pizza dough for an easy homemade pizza.
“There’s also always stir-fries, flatbreads, quesadillas, all of which you can pretty much put anything in — those are my go-tos,” Donna says. But she adds, “There weren’t a lot of leftovers in my house.”
What did remain, she was precisely democratic about, using those Ziplocs to divvy up extra pizza and muffins equally by labeling them with her boys’ names. “It would cut down on the fights,” she says.
The two brothers famously took that sibling rivalry to the gridiron last year, with Jason’s Philadelphia Eagles eventually losing to Travis’s Chiefs 38-35 in the Super Bowl. While Donna didn’t play favorites on the field, she does admit to spending more time at Jason’s place since she lives in a “small condo” and can easily pick up and go to spend time with her three granddaughters. “I’m always at their house,” she says. “We go to the shore and have a great time. Plus [Jason’s wife Kylie’s] mother and father are very involved with the family, so it’s a blessing.”
While the little ones draw her to Philly, she’s unbiased about her two sons’ current hometowns. “They each have their charm,” she says, calling out Kansas City’s “fantastic barbecues and museums” with a “more relaxing . . . home feel,” whereas Philadelphia means “you’re busier, running from one fantastic five-star restaurant to another.”
On her sons’ game days, Donna keeps a respectful distance since they’re “so busy and so locked in,” usually texting them the night before. “Sometimes I get a response, sometimes I don’t,” she says. “It just depends on how busy they are.”
Her messages ooze supportive vibes. “I try to give them some encouragement and tell them to put it all out in the field and enjoy every minute, because you just don’t know how long it’s gonna last,” Donna says. What will she be texting Travis this weekend? “I haven’t thought about it, but maybe I’ll send him the mine ride from Disney,” she says. “Because he’s going to be riding the mines,” she smirks, referring to the gold-rush miners who inspired the San Francisco team’s name.
After that, she sits back and enjoys the ride. “I’m a little different than most moms where I don’t worry,” she says. “I try to stay as positive as I possibly can and manifest that they’re going to win. Whatever happens happens in life, but I try as much as I possibly can to be positive.”
And that’s exactly what she’s doing this weekend — purely going to unconditionally support Travis. That said, she says even the Super Bowl players only get “a couple of free tickets” and “both of them have enormous amounts of friends and family members, and all kinds of people who want to go.” When we ask if the first free seat at least goes to mom, she glosses over the answer, making us wonder if perhaps a certain significant other may have jumped her spot in the line.
“The tickets are very pricey, even for the players on the field,” she says, explaining that last year, Jason and Kylie even had to pay for a ticket for one of their daughters just to sit on a lap. “So I just bring myself,” she says.
With so many headlines coming out of this year’s game, we ask Donna what she thinks the big takeaway will be Sunday night. “Oh, geez, it’s gonna be a super-close game,” she says. “I have a feeling that whoever has the ball last is going to win.”
Some may argue more eyes will be on her, as she’s also become one of football’s biggest stars in her own right. “That’s kind of strange,” she says. “But it’s really because of my two boys. I’m just a mom. People can relate to me because so many others out there did the same thing, putting their kids in a car, driving them from practice to practice. Even though it was grueling at times and expensive because of gas and everything, the individuals that I met are priceless and I will have them as friends forever.”