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Publishing

Travis Kelce’s Super Bowl ‘Viva Las Vegas’ Scored a Payday for the Song

Kelce's celebratory interpretation of the Elvis Presley hit's chorus counted as a public performance of the classic tune.

Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy following the NFL Super Bowl 58 football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadium on Feb. 11, 2024 in Las Vegas.

Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy following the NFL Super Bowl 58 football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadium on Feb. 11, 2024 in Las Vegas.

Michael Owens/Getty Images

For Will Bratton, the best part of Super Bowl LVIII was not when Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman caught the game-winning pass for an overtime touchdown or when Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker nailed a 57-yard field goal. It was when Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, during the trophy ceremony after the game, belted out an impromptu, raggedy chorus of “Viva Las Vegas” on the CBS broadcast.

Those three words, repeated several times in a pacing and melody only vaguely resembling Elvis Presley’s classic 1964 hit, have delivered an unexpected payday for the song’s rights holders.


“We were very excited about him doing that,” says Bratton, president of Pomus Songs Inc., namesake publisher for the late Doc Pomus, who wrote the song with Mort Shuman. “Royalties are paid for that performance through BMI.”

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Kelce’s rendition constituted an “ephemeral use,” according to Rachel Jacobson, who oversees film and TV for Warner Chappell Music (WCM), which administers Pomus’ recordings. As when a marching band plays an off-the-cuff snippet of a song during a televised football game, the use generates a royalty payment through BMI as a public performance. “Anything beyond that, then you come and clear it,” she says.

Although Bratton couldn’t say how much money Pomus Songs made from Kelce’s performance — “BMI’s generally three quarters behind, so we won’t have that data until probably next December” — the revenue is likely to continue. Late-night talk shows airing Kelce’s version would have to pay for a “previewing synch license,” according to Bratton, which would lead to a negotiated fee as opposed to the ephemeral use royalty payment. WCM’s Jacobson is not aware of any requests for such a license involving Kelce’s rendition of “Viva.”

For the Super Bowl, Bratton says, “It was also licensed to CBS Sports for a pre-game show and it was shown once during the game over a viewing of Taylor Swift. That paid — I don’t want to say how much, but it was good money.”

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Written for the Presley film of the same name, “Viva” has come to symbolize Las Vegas glamor-and-gambling culture and has been covered by Bruce Springsteen, Dead Kennedys, ZZ Top and Shawn Colvin. Bob Dylan wrote a chapter about the song in his 2022 book, The Philosophy of Modern Song: “This is a song about faith. The kind of faith where you step under a shower spigot in the middle of the desert and fully believe water will come out.”

The song was also in The Big Lebowski and a Viagra commercial (“Viva Viagra”), which, Bratton recalls, “was a very nice synch license momentarily — but I’m not sure if we regret it or not.”

Pomus, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame songwriter who wrote classics such as The Drifters’ “Save the Last Dance for Me” and “This Magic Moment”; The Coasters’ “Young Blood”; and Presley’s “Little Sister,” was a “sports fanatic,” according to Bratton, who is married to Pomus’ daughter, Sharyn Felder. “He would have been thrilled that his song was used like that,” he says of Kelce’s “Vegas” rendition. “It was more of a holler than a sing. It was his enthusiasm that was notable.” He adds: “We just like it to make money.”

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This article was originally published by Billboard U.S.

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