If anyone knows what caused the blackout that plummeted New Orleans' Superdome, and Super Bowl XLVII, into near-darkness Sunday night, they aren't being very forthcoming. Entergy Services, the local utility, and SMG, the company that manages the Superdome, jointly blamed the power failure on a mysterious "abnormality in the system" that essentially tripped a giant circuit-breaker, adding that both companies "will continue to investigate the root cause of the abnormality."
However, what is pretty clear is that before the blackout, the Baltimore Ravens were cruising to a blowout victory, and after the 35-minute unscheduled break, the San Francisco 49ers roared back to within a few points (and questionable calls) of winning the game. So naturally, the internet did what the internet does best: Hatching and propagating conspiracy theories, many of them tongue-in-cheek. Here, five of the best:
1. The 49ers did it!
If you follow the rules of any good whodunit, the first question is: Who gained from the event in question? And in this case, when the lights went out after an amazing 108-yard return TD by the Ravens' Jacoby Jones, extending Baltimore's lead to 28-6, it was clearly the 49ers in need of a game-changer. "What's with the San Francisco 49ers and strange blackouts?" asks Matt Rudnitsky at SportsGrid. "This type of thing doesn't happen at middle school baseball games, but it has happened twice in 49ers recent history." (The first instance was at a 49ers-Steelers game in 2011.) But who flipped the switch? "The stadium electrician, who looked suspiciously like diehard Niners fan Jennifer Garner, wanted to stop the Ravens' momentum," suggests TV Line's Michael Ausiello.
2. Blame the dark arts
The blackout "may shut down future hopes of New Orleans hosting the Super Bowl again... unless they replace this outdated facility," says Patrick Rishe at Forbes. This isn't the first brush with disaster in the Superdome's 28-year history — remember Hurricane Katrina? "The blackout is certain to add to the legend of the Superdome," says Ken Belson in The New York Times. "Some New Orleans residents believe the building is cursed because it was built near the old Girod Street Cemetery, which had fallen into disrepair." Or why not combine the two threads?
I bet during Katrina a voodoo priest put a curse on the Superdome while living there
— Dr. Ben Wood, O.G. (@OGBenWood) February 4, 2013
3. This was a giant viral marketing scheme
Given the amount of money advertisers pour into 30-second Super Bowl spots, it's not surprising some people blame the outage on aggressive marketing tactics. A popular suspect:
This Super Bowl guerrilla tactic ad brought to you be General Electric #earnedmedia
— Paul Kelly™ (@_PaulKelly_) February 4, 2013
GE's former TV network, NBC, also came in for suspicion, especially its upcoming show, the heavily promoted Revolution, set in a world without electricity. "NBC president Bob Greenblatt, dressed as a roving concession worker, pulled the plug to promote the midseason return of Revolution," suggests TV Line's Ausiello. Revolution itself didn't exactly try to quash the theory: "Just a taste of what's to come on March 25. #LightsOut #Revolution," tweeted the show's official Twitter account. Ausiello's other theory: "A very poorly timed viral' aspect to the Star Trek Into Darkness promotional campaign."
4. It's the Great Heist, Super Bowl edition
Hollywood also shows up in this trope from the great cannon of robbery films:
Most daring heist in Super Bowl history currently being carried out
— Alex Pareene (@pareene) February 4, 2013
If you've ever watched a movie, you know right now the heist of the century is taking place at the Super Dome box office.#Oceans11
— Eugene Kane(@eugene_kane) February 4, 2013
— The Fix (@TheFix) February 4, 2013
5. The outage is revenge for the third Harbaugh brother
With brothers John Harbaugh and Jim Harbaugh coaching the opposing teams, the final theory involves an imagined virulent case of sibling rivalry:
"The Phantom of the Superdome is..." *removes mask* "...Julius, the jealous adopted Harbaugh brother!" "Curse you meddling kids!"
— George Mac (@geo_t_mac) February 4, 2013
Zeppo Harbaugh, the 3rd and unloved brother, off somewhere cackling
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 4, 2013