Trevor Kraus has a new book, Ticketless: How Sneaking Into The Super Bowl And Everything Else (Almost) Held My Life Together. It recalls tales of getting into famous sporting events, such as The Masters and the National Championship Game. Here is an excerpt from his book on how he got into Super Bowl XLVI.
My gatecrashing portfolio was growing faster than I could’ve imagined. I’d hid in a garbage bin to sneak into an NCAA Tournament game. I’d walked right into a Wimbledon final, ticketless. And just four months earlier, I’d sneaked into college football’s Game of the Century and three World Series games by darting past the ticket takers.
Then, the Super Bowl, usually in far away, warm-weather cities, came to my neck of the woods: Indianapolis. I had to have it.
But security would be unlike anything I’d faced; I needed a fake ticket to get past the first layer of security. Luckily, I knew a Photoshop whiz — and she happened to be drop-dead gorgeous. Sneaking into the Super Bowl would not only be my gatecrash masterpiece; it would win her heart, I thought.
I found an image of a ticket online, and she cropped it to the proper size. I took the flash drive to a FedEx store, handed it to the woman behind the desk, and held my breath.
Did she realize I was creating a $900 counterfeit?
“My brother is a big football fan … his birthday is tonight, I’m gonna play a little prank on him,” I chuckled.
She shrugged and printed, in exquisite color, on heavy cardstock, a “ticket” to Super Bowl XLVI.
It was in a lanyard dangling from my neck as I approached the first entrance I saw. Lined side by side, spanning the width of the security tent, were eight metal detectors. The man who supervised mine glanced at my lanyard and I shuffled through.
Next: ticket takers, followed by a maze of fences that wound toward the stadium.
I reached a ticket taker — a woman, perhaps in her 40s. She angled her scanner toward the bottom barcode of my “ticket.” She pressed ‘Enter.’ The scanner buzzed. The screen displayed a red X.
“I’m sorry about this, sir. Do you mind taking your ticket out?”
Uhhh, as a matter of fact, I do! I screamed in my head.
My hands trembled as I fumbled with my counterfeit, which I had glued to an old St. Louis Cardinals ticket.
Another scan of the bottom barcode, another red X.
I scratched my head. “Wha … what’s going on?”
“Just a moment, sir, let me get a supervisor. Come with me.”
She vacated her post and walked toward a table in the middle of the tent. I had an open path to the stadium — but would there be another layer of security?
In the split second before starting to sprint, I took a deep breath. That would be an option later, at a different entrance, if need be. I decided to see the ticket jig through.
I followed the ticket taker to a supervisor’s table. The CIA, FBI, NSA, Department of Homeland Security — they were all within shouting distance. I had a piece of paper from FedEx.
The supervisor picked at a corner of my fake, then began to peel it apart. We both looked at the image of Cardinals outfielder Matt Holiday swinging a bat, then looked at each other.
“Hmm, looks like your ticket got stuck to this old baseball ticket,” the supervisor said.
“Huh,” my voice cracked. “Don’t know how that would’ve happened. Maybe try scanning the top barcode.”
The last syllable was barely out of my mouth when he flicked his wrist and readied his scanner. In slow motion, I saw him angle it toward the top barcode and press ‘Enter.’
A beep, and a green checkmark.
“Oh. I’m, uh … hmm,” he said. He regained his composure. “I’m sorry about that, sir. Happens all the time.”
I had no idea what he was talking about. I didn’t care. He put his hand on my shoulder as we turned back toward the ticket taker. “He’s good,” he shouted to her. “Enjoy the game, sir.”
[Photos via Imagn Images]