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Super Bowl ads or players’ salaries: Which cost more?

It's Super Bowl time. The biggest sporting event of the year has arrived and this year's game at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey has been billed as the most expensive one yet.

The Super Bowl also means hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent to get in on the action, most of which has nothing to do with which team wins the game. We've followed the money in the above video, to show you where it's being spent and if it's paying off.

First, there are the ads.

According to The Los Angeles Times, 55 commercials will air during this year’s Super Bowl, with companies shelling out an average of $4 million for a 30-second spot. Advertisers spend as much as $2 million dollars to produce ads, which means a one-minute commercial can cost advertisers $10 million. That sounds like a lot and it is. Spending on ad time has gone up 70% alone in the last 10 years.

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Then there’s the money flowing into the local economy where the Super Bowl is held. The New York/New Jersy Super Bowl Host Committee estimates this year's game will bring $500 million to $600 million to New York and New Jersey. That sounds impactful, but some sports economists have said it’s really more likely to be a tenth of that judging by past Super Bowls.

Looking back at the 1999 Super Bowl in Miami, for example, the NFL claimed it generated close to $400 million, while a separate study by Robert Baade, a professor at Lake Forest College in Illinois, found it added under $40 million to South Florida’s economy.

Philip Porter, an economics professor at the University of South Florida, says one reason for the discrepancy is that visitors during game-week spend money on NFL souvenirs and at NFL-funded events. This year, for example, Times Square has been transformed into "Super Bowl Boulevard" with free activities for visitors and a $5 toboggan run that benefits charity. So fewer dollars are actually flowing into local businesses than you might think.

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And of course, serious cash has gone into paying the athletes that will be playing Sunday. In the mid-1990s, the NFL instituted a salary cap so that large and smaller market teams could compete on more even footing. But that doesn’t mean teams spend their money the same way.

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Looking at how this year’s quarterbacks stack up, the Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning made $15 million in 2013, while Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks made just over $526,000. (Wilson is a rookie.)

All this money spent and to think, the price for sitting on your couch watching the game is free.

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