The Super Bowl: a Haven for Sex Trafficking

The Super Bowl brings in all kinds of business, but it’s not all good. According to a Reuters report, it’s also one of the biggest days on the calendar for the underage sex trade.

The Dallas Police and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot are expecting pimps to traffic thousands of underage girls into the Dallas–Fort Worth area this weekend, with the hopes of picking up extra business from the influx of men.

According to, the average age of these girls is 13, with a life expectancy of seven years. Unfortunately, it isn’t anything new. The report offered this grim statistic:

Up to 300,000 girls between 11 and 17 are lured into the U.S. sex industry annually, according to a 2007 report sponsored by the Department of Justice and written by the nonprofit group Shared Hope International.

It’s estimated that up to 10,000 adults and underage girls have been taken to previous Super Bowls. Pimps have been known to buy out taxis in order to convert them to “mobile brothels.”

There have been rescues. Over the last two years, 50 girls have been saved from their captors at the Super Bowls in Miami and Tampa. Still, a mere 50 out of thousands seems like a drop in the bucket. is trying to get enough signatures on this petition to urge the Super Bowl Host Committee to endorse Traffick911’s “I’m Not Buying It” campaign. It’s already got almost 70,000 signatures.

The campaign has even gained the attention of NFL pro Jay Ratliff, the Dallas Cowboy and three-time Pro Bowler, who put out his own public service announcement. In the ad, Ratliff declares, “Real men don’t buy children. They don’t buy sex.” (You can see an interview with him here.)

He’s right. Real men stand up against abuse. The Super Bowl is one of America’s favorite events, the most viewed TV event all year. But while you’re watching the big game on the big screen, don’t forget about these silenced girls living in the dark.

—Photo cordey/Flickr



  1. The amount of debunking that has gone into the Superbowl/Olympics/World Cup trafficking myths is just astounding.

    For the World Cup in Germany, 40,000 women were supposedly going to be brought in as “sex slaves”.

    The police found 8.

    This sort of thing has been happening for years now and yet here we have Matt Coburn repeating this hoary and much abused myth as if it were God’s own truth.

    I have a question for Matt, though: don’t you feel that this relentless exageration of trafficking numbers and the conscious conflating of voluntary, self-employed sex workers with “sex slaves” actually makes it more difficult to find the real victims?

    Millions of dollars are spent annually on wild goose-chases which net few trafficking victims, but which put thousands of working men and women behind bars where they are subject to VERY WELL DOCUMENTED police abuse, up to and including rape.

    What I want to know, Matt, is do you ever think about those innocent sex workers who are harassed, jailed, beaten and even tortured in these mega-vice round-ups that are promoted by the exagerated claims that you and other anti-trafficking people make?

  2. According to the media hype There was supposed to be hundreds of thousands of under age child sex slaves kidnapped and forced to have sex with super bowl fans. At the Dallas Super Bowl 2011. WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL OF THEM????????????

    Well, as I predicted it was all a big lie told by various anti-prostitution groups and the Dallas Women’s Foundation which is a anti-prostitution group that lies in order to get grant money from the government and charities to pay their high salaries. As proved in the link below:

    Top FBI agent in Dallas (Robert Casey Jr.) sees no evidence of expected spike in child sex trafficking:

    “Among those preparations was an initiative to prevent an expected rise in sex trafficking and child prostitution surrounding the Super Bowl. But Robert Casey Jr., special agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas office, said he saw no evidence that the increase would happen, nor that it did.
    “In my opinion, the Super Bowl does not create a spike in those crimes,” he said. “The discussion gets very vague and general. People mixed up child prostitution with the term human trafficking, which are different things, and then there is just plain old prostitution.”

    This myth of thousands or millions of underage sex slaves tries to make every sports fan a sex criminal. No matter what the sport is, or in what country it is in.

    Brian McCarthy isn’t happy. He’s a spokesman for the NFL. Every year he’s forced to hear why his customers are adulterers and child molesters. Brian McCarthy says the sport/super bowl sex slave story is a urban legend, with no truth at all.

    I do not like the idea of people getting the wrong information and believing lies, no matter what the topic is. The Sex trafficking, slavery issue is one of the biggest lies being told today. It is amazing to me how people will believe such lies so easily. The media is to blame for this. I wonder why they feel such a need to report wrong stats, numbers and information about this topic without doing proper research.

    Here are some good links about this:

  3. Well folks, it’s been a week now since the big game and all of the hoopla and here is all of the actual facts I could find about sex trafficking underage girls at the super bowl.


    A felon from Austin forced a teenage girl and her adult sister to come work as prostitutes in Dallas because “there was big money to be made during Super Bowl,” according to police documents.
    But Dallas police say they busted Anthony Ladell Winn, 35, before the sisters, ages 14 and 20, arranged any weekend dates.

    Area authorities had been bracing for a possible influx of prostitutes and human trafficking victims in the run-up to Super Bowl XLV. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and the FBI pledged additional resources devoted to combating human trafficking last week.
    Authorities say it can be extremely difficult to accurately measure whether such crimes spike and why. However, early indications in Dallas are that there was not an obvious increase in reported prostitution cases, perhaps due in part to the icy and cold conditions, police said.
    Dallas police reported 23 adult prostitution arrests from Wednesday through Sunday, though they noted they do not know how many were related to the festivities or people surrounding the Super Bowl.
    “We didn’t see that as being a drastic increase in our normal enforcement numbers,” said Assistant Chief Tom Lawrence. “We were trying to focus much more heavily on the locations where we thought there’d be a high level of parties, activities related to the Super Bowl.”
    Arlington and Fort Worth police said their prostitution arrest numbers were not available Monday.
    For Fassett, whose squad handles sex crimes involving juveniles, the Winn case was the only arrest of its kind thought to be related to the Super Bowl.
    “I don’t know that I saw on the street level any more activity than any other normal night that we would have run an operation,” said Fassett. He acknowledged that “there’s no real statistical data to prove it one way or the other.”

    • “The Super Bowl: a Haven for Sex Trafficking” I guess this can now be added to the long list of myths about the super bowl like the 1993 mythical link between the super bowl and dramatic increases in domestic violence during the big game.

      Maybe some day “journalists” will learn to check up on facts before they repeat these kind of outlandish claims.

  4. Here’s some investigative journalism, rather than just parroting unsubstantiated claims:

    100,000 Hookers Won’t Be Showing Up in Dallas

    “This is urban legend that is pure pulp fiction,” the NFL’s McCarthy says. “I would refer you to your local law enforcement officials.”

    So that’s what we did. Meet police Sergeant Tommy Thompson of Phoenix, which hosted the 2008 Super Bowl. “We may have had certain precincts that were going gangbusters looking for prostitutes, but they were picking up your everyday street prostitutes,” Thompson says of his vice cops. “They didn’t notice any sort of glitch in the number of prostitution arrests leading up to the Super Bowl.”
    Conspicuously noted: He doesn’t recall a single arrest of an underage girl.

    Perhaps Phoenix was an anomaly. So let’s go to Tampa, host of Super Bowl 2009. Police spokeswoman Andrea Davis says her department ran special operations on the sex trade. They came up empty. “We didn’t see a huge influx in prostitutes coming into Tampa,” she says. “The arrests were not a lot higher. They were almost the same.”

    • Matt Coburn says:


      Thanks for your sleuthing. I appreciate your hard look at the numbers. I had never heard the 100,000 figure, but that does sound overblown, indeed.

      The truth is, we can’t fully know how many sex workers will descend on Dallas, or how many of them are there because they want to be (my guess, though, is that very few are willing). Human trafficking is, after all, notoriously difficult to track and quantify, partly because the victims rarely report it (if and when they survive it). Additionally, number of arrests does not indicate number of victims, by any stretch of the imagination.

      At any rate, my concern here is not prostitution rings, per se, or escort services, but the unwilling young women and girls who are abducted, beaten, enslaved, and forced to have sex. This does, in fact, happen in the United States, and it does happen at the Super Bowl. In Tampa in 2009, Florida’s Dept. of Children and Families “took in 24 children who’d been trafficked to the city for sex work.” Those children are victims, not fancy prostitutes looking for an easy buck.


      The efforts of Traffick911 and do not constitute some wacked-out scheme aiming to blame men for the woes of society in order to boost funding. That is a cynical view indeed. Instead, the move is a sincere push to raise awareness for domestic human trafficking, so that something more can be done to prevent it.

      I think even you would agree that even one incident of sex slavery is one too many.

      • @ Matt,

        I agree that the motive to stop child trafficking is good, but the methods are flawed.

        Traffik911 and are promoting fictitious and unsupported statistics to create moral panic. They have greatly exaggerated the amount of trafficked children and implied criminality of superbowl fans. They are also using coercive tactics to pressure the superbowl committee for free advertising for their campaign. These ad campaigns won’t do anything to stop child trafficking, it is just popularizing false perceptions about men and prostitutes.

        This type of propaganda campaign is nothing new for these activist organizations. We’ve seen it before with the superbowl DV myth and false advertising of DV as solely male perpetrator and child sexual assault as solely female victim. We now have access to much better research, but the media is still complacent with parroting unsupported statistics which misrepresent the problem.

      • “I had never heard the 100,000 figure, but that does sound overblown, indeed”

        I suspect that the 100,000 figure is editorial sarcasm. When you’re already several orders of magnitude off from reality then what’s one more? I wonder though, why would you question 100,000 figure but not the “ten’s of thousands” figure? Both are preposterous.

        Bad statistics make bad policies, be wary of the 1 in 4 claims, they are also a complete misrepresentation.

        If you want to do something positive, I would suggest opening up the discussion about these issues of abuse that are essentially taboo for polite discussion.

        NFL Must Tackle Super Bowl Abuse Myth

  5. Given the numbers and prevalence cited in your article, I can’t understand why this sporting event that apparently is a “Human Trafficking ” event isn’t shut down altogether. Do we really need to watch grown men violently pummel each other over a piece of leather? Shut it down ……the whole thing. Obviously whenever and wherever men gather the community is at risk. Why are you people not advocating shutting the whole thing down. Maybe groups such as this have their priorities all wrong. Shut it down.

    • Great solution. Shut down the whole world while you’re at it. People going out in public – people *living* – leads to criminal activity.

      The truth is, the Texas Attorney General is poorly informed about the number of potentially trafficked women. He took numbers from a coalition in Florida who apparently pulled their figures out of thin air. The coalition rescued about a dozen women at last year’s Super Bowl, but somehow the figure “10,000” was extrapolated from that.

      And then there’s this: could the market support that many hookers? Estimates are that about 100,000 *extra* people will descend on Dallas for the game. Many of these are women; many of the men are married and with their wives, kids, or colleagues. Plus, most men don’t pay for sex. So the demand would not support this amount of supply.

      This is all grossly overblown by both the gov’t and the organizations that get funding from them in order to keep the big wheel turning.

      • And what kind of idiot would actually believe such obviously inflated figures??
        oh, right…Matt Coburn does…

      • Hey Chuck sensationalizing statistics can lead to oppressive policies, once people accept the BS its often impossible to uneducate them. The response should be as shocking as the exaggeration. It’s unethical to peddle morality for money. It’s a dramitization of the facts that attacks the esteem of most men. If you say 100,000 then how do you correlate that information with how you understand the nature of most men. Wasn’t it Jimmy the Swaggart that railed against sinners every Sunday on TV, until he was discovered to be a pervert. I say shut it down completely, so the NFL can sue for damages and stop these dramitizations.

  6. There’s a good article here that does some factual investigation:

    Texas Attorney General Can’t Cite “Tens of Thousands” of Super Bowl Sex Slaves Figure


  1. […] NORWALK, Conn. – The series of human-trafficking cases increases significantly in cities that horde vital sporting events such as a World Cup and a Olympics, according to children’s rights advocates and law coercion officials. In a weeks heading adult to a 2010 World Cup, 40,000 sex workers were take to South Africa, and a profession ubiquitous of Texas expected 10,000 cases of tellurian trafficking heading adult to a Super Bowl final year in Dallas, according to published reports. […]

  2. […] NORWALK, Conn. – The series of human-trafficking cases increases significantly in cities that horde vital sporting events such as a World Cup and a Olympics, according to children’s rights advocates and law coercion officials. In a weeks heading adult to a 2010 World Cup, 40,000 sex workers were take to South Africa, and a profession ubiquitous of Texas expected 10,000 cases of tellurian trafficking heading adult to a Super Bowl final year in Dallas, according to published reports. […]

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