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A Thanksgiving guest's guide to Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce

Taylor Swift reacts during a game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri on October 22, 2023.
Jamie Squire
Getty Images
Taylor Swift reacts during a game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri on October 22, 2023.

So you've thawed your turkey, you've baked your pies and you've set your table with care. But somewhere between the cornbread and the cranberry sauce, you forgot to prepare for the inevitable: The moment when Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce enter the dinner conversation.

Sure, this whirlwind celebrity romance may seem like a safer discussion topic than, say, a war, religion or the upcoming election. But from friendship bracelets to "seemingly ranch," there are a lot of details to keep track of — and you don't want to be the one caught looking out of the loop.

Whether you're a beginner in need of the background or a fan in need of a refresh, we've got you covered.

Below, a comprehensive (though non-exhaustive) guide to the Taylor-Travis phenomenon, for all your Thanksgiving Day needs.

Let's start with the main players

Taylor Swift: You already know her. She's 33, blonde and arguably the world's biggest pop star. One could go on and on about her titles and accolades, her complicated imprint on the female psyche or her burgeoning impact on American democracy.

But when it comes to any tabletop arguments about her why-should-we-care-significance, I'd focus on this: She's a fierce economic force.

HerEras Tour, now in its South American leg, is on track to break Elton John's record to become the highest-grossing stadium show of all time. It was credited with pumping $5 billion into the U.S. economy, and I'd bet your Uncle Johnny hasn't done anything as impactful as that this year.

Travis Kelce: The tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, #87, a two-time Super Bowl champion, also a 34-year-old, the co-host of the "New Heights" podcast and Swift's latest love interest. He was merely football famous until she put him on the map, or so her fans like to tease.

Jason Kelce: Travis's older brother, who's also a football guy, but plays for the Chiefs' cross-conference rival, the Philadelphia Eagles. Jason comes up frequently in the Swiftie discourse because he co-hosts Travis's podcast. Plus, their sibling rivalry is pretty cute.

Tree Paine: Swift's publicist, whom The Cut once described as "quiet but ferocious." Swifties assume a lot of the leaks from 'an unnamed source' in the tabloids are actually coming from Paine. Her shrewd sensibilities are at least part of the reason why so many are convinced this whole relationship is just a well-orchestrated PR stunt.

Joe Alwyn: The British actor who Swift dated for seven years before abruptly ending their relationship at the start of her Eras tour. This break-up not only paved the way for the advent of Traylor, but also, it would seem, ended a period of Swift's career in which she kept her personal life closely guarded, protecting herself from over-exposure while she rebuilt her reputation.

Speaking of paving the way, can we get a timeline of events here?

March 2023: Alwyn and Swift break up. It's messy. Fans mourn. Swift is spotted crying on stage, but also heading out on the town with her girls, looking as fearless as ever.

July 8: Kelce attends Swift's Eras Tour stop in Kansas City. He later divulged on his podcast that he'd planned to give her a friendship bracelet with his phone number on it (homemade jewelry is a Swiftie concert tradition), but he didn't get the chance.

Mid to late Sept.: Speculation about a budding romance starts to spread in fan forums and tabloid columns. NFL reporters pepper Kelce with questions about Swift and he waves them off, neither confirming nor denying. On Sept. 21, he finally gives in, telling the Pat McAfee show that he's invited Swift to watch him play. "I threw the ball in her court," he says.

Sept. 24: She takes the ball and runs with it, shocking NFL fans and Swifties alike by showing up in Kelce's stadium suite and cheering the Chiefs on to victory over the Chicago Bears. In a clip seen around the world, a sports reporter captures them looking coy as they leave the game together.

Oct. 1: Swift shows up to a game again, this time bringing along a big group of her famous friends, including Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds. She shows up again the next week to watch the Chiefs lose to the Denver Broncos. The NFL marketing staff has a field day (pun intended) with the optics.

Oct. 15: If the three game appearances didn't seal the deal, fans are left with no doubt that the pair are dating when they arrive hand-in-hand for a dinner and Saturday Night Live afterparty in New York.

Nov. 11: Kelce finally gets the chance to play the part of the adoring fan, attending Swift's Era Tour stop in Buenos Aires, and it's a big night for the little details her fans devour.

Kelce is spotted next to Swift's dad, awkwardly missing a high five. Swift's dad is wearing a Chiefs lanyard. Swift adds "End Game" and its sports-adjacent lyrics to her surprise songs, then she changes a lyric in one of her Midnights hits to go "Karma is the guy on the Chiefs, running straight home to me."

But the biggest moment of the night comes after the show, when fans capture video of Swift running home to Kelce's arms, indulging in some rom-com-style smooching.

Nov. 20: Kelce opens up about the budding relationship for a feature in the Wall Street Journal Magazine. He calls her "hilarious," "a genius" and the kind of woman who holds his worldview, putting family first. And he acknowledges he has some nerves about the fervent fans and ceaseless spectacle of it all.

"Obviously I've never dated anyone with that kind of aura about them ... I've never dealt with it," he says. "But at the same time, I'm not running away from any of it."

Why am I hearing so much about Travis's tweets?

Desperate for more clues about his character, the Swiftiverse has been unearthing Kelce's social media posts and re-sharing them all week.

The big takeaway? They're wholesome — entertaining for the internet if also a little embarrassing for him.

His earliest missives came from 2009, when he was a student at University of Cincinnati, and they contain a trove of spelling errors, mundane observations and praise for chain restaurants.

The hype over his commitment to misspelling Chipotle as "#Chipolte," inspired the fast casual brand to temporarily re-name its Kansas City location.

And what the heck is 'seemingly ranch'?

Of all the Traylor-related trends, this one best encapsulates the full-blown frenzy.

As NPR's Rachel Treisman outlined, it all started on Sept. 24, during that first Swift game appearance. The fan account @tswifterastour shared a snap of the star posing with a fan, mid-snack.

On her plate is "seemingly ranch!," reads the accompanying text.

That enthusiastic tweet and its delightfully awkward turn of phrase have since been viewed more than 32 million times, sparking limited edition Heinz flavors, pop culture spoofs, McDonalds' deals and even an empire state building light display.

What are their friends and family saying?

Those closest to the lovebirds say the relationship is going well, and they're ready for it.

Chiefs' quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who considers himself "like a brother" to Kelce, told ESPN last week that he didn't think Swift's presence at the games was "a distraction," especially when he can see "how good of a person she is."

Meanwhile, the Kelce family matron, Donna, says she regrets an interview with The Today Show in early October, in which she tried to downplay her enthusiasm for Swift but instead came off looking unimpressed altogether.

She told the WSJ this week that her son is "happier than I've seen him in a long time."

And on the Swift side, the squad seems equally on board. Model Cara Delevingne told E! News that she's "so, so happy" for the pop star. And another of Swift's friends, Gigi Hadid, publicly squashed rumors that she and actress Selena Gomez thought Swift was rushing in.

"We are all over the moon for our girl. Period," Hadid wrote on Instagram.

Plus, the fans appear to be here for it. After Swift's first appearance in the Kelce suite, sales for #87 Chiefs jerseys spiked more than 400%.

Sooo... is he gonna put a ring on it?

This relationship has only been playing out publicly for two months, but already, the engagement rumors are flying, and the discourse is turning towards that expectation withspeed and vigor.

But there's also two months of football season left. Swift will be on a world tour until December 2024.

Maybe we all need to calm down, shake it off, let them survive long-distance and get ourselves through this holiday meal first.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

Corrected: November 24, 2023 at 12:00 AM EST
A previous version of this story incorrectly said Taylor Swift is 34 years old. She is 33 and will turn 34 on Dec. 13.
Emily Olson
Emily Olson is on a three-month assignment as a news writer and live blog editor, helping shape NPR's digital breaking news strategy.