The Super Bowl number has long been represented by Roman numerals, and most of those are featured in the league’s logo for each year’s big game. This year, the NFL is on to Super Bowl LVII. Today, we break down what that number represents and why the league uses a Roman numeral system to denote each successive Super Bowl.
What Super Bowl Number Is This?
57. That’s what the “LVII” translates to in Arabic numerals, better known as the regular numbers we use in our everyday lives. As such, the big game on February 12 will, naturally, mark the NFL’s 57th edition of the Super Bowl.
The first Super Bowl (Super Bowl I in Roman numerals) was played back in 1967 between the Kansas City Chiefs of the AFL and the Green Bay Packers of the NFL, as the two leagues had yet to merge by that point. Nearly 57 years later, the Chiefs are back in the big game, this time representing the AFC against the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFC.
What Does the Roman Numeral LVII Mean?
As we’ve established, the Roman numeral LVII translates to the number 57 in our standard Arabic numerals. So, how does the Roman numeral system work?
Each Roman numeral letter translates to an Arabic numeral, and how they’re ordered affects what they stand for. In a basic sense, the Roman numeral direct translations are as follows:
- I = 1
- V = 5
- X = 10
- L = 50
- C = 100
When a Roman numeral appears directly before a larger one, it subtracts from the larger one. When a Roman numeral appears directly before a smaller or equal one, it adds. For example:
- II = 2
I (1) is equal to I (1), so they add together.
1+1 = 2.
- IV = 4
I (1) is smaller than V (5), so 1 is subtracted from 5.
5-1 = 4.
- VI = 6
V (5) is larger than (1), so 5 is added with 1.
5+1 = 6.
- LVII = 57
L (50) is larger than V (5), so 50 is added with 5.
50+5 = 55.
The remainder (55) is larger than II (2), so 55 is added with 2.
55+2 = 57.
Why Does the NFL Use Roman Numerals for Super Bowls?
Former owner of the Kansas City Chiefs and one of the legendary leaders of the modern NFL, Lamar Hunt, is widely credited for establishing both the name “Super Bowl” and the use of Roman numerals in denoting each edition of the game.
Dan Masonson, former director of corporate communications for the NFL, explained that the league adopted the system to avoid any confusion that might occur because the Super Bowl takes place in a different year from the one in which the regular season starts. For example, the Super Bowl for the 2022 season happens in 2023.
As for the name “Super Bowl,” Hunt wrote that his inspiration came from the Super Ball toy that his children played with when he came up with the name.
Whether or not Roman numerals lessen any confusion is certainly up for debate. Still, either way, it’s the system we’ve used for every Super Bowl since Super Bowl V, with the lone exception being Super Bowl 50.