Forget the Broncos. Beyonce, Budweiser and Marshawn Lynch really won the Super Bowl

Sure, there was a football game, but tweets and other social media posts show most people focused on everything but the plays.

Terry Collins Staff Reporter, CNET News
Terry writes about social networking giants and legal issues in Silicon Valley for CNET News. He joined CNET News from the Associated Press, where he spent the six years covering major breaking news in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before the AP, Terry worked at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and the Kansas City Star. Terry's a native of Chicago.
Terry Collins
3 min read
Enlarge Image

Many thought Beyonce was the real star of Super Bowl 50.

Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire/Corbis

The biggest moments of Super Bowl 50 had nothing to do with the play on the field.

The big game drew 111 million TV viewers to see the Denver Broncos trounce the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. But if you kept an eye on #SB50, you'd have noticed social media going ape for the halftime show featuring Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars.

Many fans said they considered the first half of the game the opening act for "Queen Bey," the world's nickname for Beyonce. Still others said she completely overshadowed Coldplay, which had been billed as the main act.

10 big-game fails that kicked off winning memes (pictures)

See all photos

The commentary showed how much social media can color our memories and our reactions to an event. That became all too obvious during the Super Bowl, as advertisers urged viewers to tweet, musicians grabbed social media attention away from the game, and even broadcaster CBS used social media to tout and supplement its own telecast. (Editors' note: CNET is owned by CBS.)

Without question, Beyonce became the star of Sunday's action. With backup dancers wearing Afros and costumes suggestive of the Black Panther movement of the 1960s, she sang her new single, "Formation," which is an overt take on politics, feminism and black history. She hit a nerve. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, for example, called her performance "ridiculous," "outrageous," and an "attack on police officers."

In contrast, actor-comedian Sarah Silverman tweeted: "Can anyone else in the history of the world release a song and the same day sing it on the [expletive] Super Bowl & we all know the words!"


This image tweeted by Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch suggested his intent to retire.


Beyonce also used the moment to announce a new concert tour, prompting fans to rush to her website in such numbers that it crashed.

Social media also noticed when reclusive Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch tweeted a simple image of his lime green spikes hanging from a telephone wire. The ultimate interpretation: He's retiring.

Reaction was instant. His soon-to-be former teammates, including Richard Sherman and Russell Wilson, praised Lynch on Twitter, saying it was an "honor playing with one of the greatest running backs of all time." Even Seahawks owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen sent a tweet thanking Lynch for his play, along with the hashtag #BeastMode.

By midday Monday, Lynch's post had been retweeted more than 190,000 times.

The Internet also reacted to the Manning brothers, both NFL quarterbacks. Social media picked apart Eli's reaction, when he appeared less than thrilled by his brother's imminent win with the Broncos. Comedian Sara Schaefer tweeted, "Either Eli Manning has diarrhea or he really hates his brother."

Then there's the world's reaction to Peyton's comments after the game, when he said would celebrate by kissing his wife and kids, and then drinking "a lot of Budweiser tonight."

Twitter blew up as fans criticized what appeared to be a blatant advertisement. Nevermind that a Budweiser spokeswoman said Manning wasn't paid to pitch the beer. His comment generated the equivalent of nearly $14 million in ad time in the first 14 hours after the Super Bowl.