The most popular sports events in the USA

Americans love their sports! Whether it's typical US sports like American Football or baseball, traditional golf tournaments and horse races, or trendy surfing competitions: the American sports calendar has something to suit every taste. We present the 15 most popular sports events in the USA.

#1. Super Bowl

American Football players

It is a sporting event of the superlatives – the final of the NFL playoffs, better known as the Super Bowl! The highlight of the American Football season, in which the champions of the two conferences, AFC and NFC, compete against each other, is held every year in February and watched by more than 110 million TV viewers.

This makes the Super Bowl by far the most popular sports event in the USA! Moreover, the legendary halftime show, where superstars such as Michael Jackson, Prince, and U2 previously performed, makes the Super Bowl not only a crowd puller in terms of sports but also a first-class entertainment highlight.

Super Bowl facts
Where annually changing venues
When beginning of February
Viewers over 110 million TV viewers worldwide;
up to 100,000 spectators in the stadium (varies depending on the venue)
Price depending on the category $ 4,000 to $ 75,000

#2. New York Marathon

Marathon runners on the track

More than 50,000 professional and amateur runners make their way through all five boroughs of New York City every first Sunday in November. As they do so, more than three million spectators spread out along the 42.195 km course to motivate them to achieve their personal best.

Also known as the TCS New York City Marathon, the running event had steadily grown in popularity since its first edition in 1970, when only 127 athletes took part. Along with the marathons in Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, and Tokyo, the New York Marathon is now one of the legendary World Marathon Majors, the six most important marathon events in the world.

New York Marathon facts
Where New York City, New York
When first Sunday in November
Viewers more than 300 million TV viewers worldwide;
more than 3 million viewers along the route
Price spectating along the route is free of charge;
approx. $ 300 starting fee for runners

#3. Iron Man

Triathletes after swimming

Only the best of the best compete in this extreme sporting event, which demands perfection and willpower from the athletes in no less than three disciplines. First, the athletes have to withstand the waves in the bay of Kailua-Kona over a distance of 3.8 km, after which they complete a 180 km bike course to Hāwī in the North of Big Island and back again. Finally, a marathon of over 42 km along the coast to Keahole Point and back to Kailua-Kona awaits them.

Only those 50 men and 35 women who have proven their abilities with the best times of the triathlon season during previous events are allowed to compete in the challenging triathlon in the midst of Hawaii's paradise-like nature. The Iron Man course itself is completed by an average of 96.7 % of all starters – a truly heroic achievement!

Iron Man facts
Where Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
When beginning of October
Viewers more than 56 million TV viewers worldwide
Price spectating along the route is free of charge

#4. NBA Finals

NBA basketball players

Regardless of which teams make it to the endgame – the NBA Finals are hard to beat in terms of excitement and radiate a lot of glamors every year. At the highlight of the basketball season, spectators can be sure to witness super-fast moves and spectacular basket shots, as well as the stars and starlets who follow the game in the front row. The most successful team from the Eastern Conference and the best team from the Western Conference compete for the basketball championship in a best-of-seven series with a maximum of seven games. To win the prestigious Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy, a team must be the first to achieve four victories.

NBA Finals facts
Where annually changing venues
When ent of May to June
Viewers 12 to 13 million TV viewers;
18,000 to 21,000 live viewers per game (depending on arena size)
Price depending on the category, $ 660 to $ 22,000

#5. Daytona 500

NASCAR series race cars

Daytona 500, the most-watched car race in the USA, is also known as the "Great American Race" or the "Super Bowl of motorsports." Since 1959, the traditional motorsport event featuring the stock cars of the American NASCAR series has been held on the oval track of the Daytona International Speedway in sunny Florida.

In the exciting (and extremely noisy) sporting event, NASCAR drivers complete a full 500 miles (200 laps) on the racetrack, reaching top speeds of 315 kilometers per hour. The spectacle is so popular with Americans and visitors that an entire tourism industry has developed around it.

Daytona 500 facts
Where Daytona Beach, Florida
When February
Viewers around 9 million TV viewers;
around 100,000 spectators at the track
Price 4-day pass from $ 690;
2-day pass from $ 410

#6. Masters Golf Tournament

Golf player playing a tee shot

Amid the lush greens of the Southern States, Augusta National Golf Club hosts the most famous golf tournament in the USA every spring. The prestigious Masters Golf Tournament was first played in 1934 and, being one of four golf majors, is one of the largest and most important tournaments in the sport. The tournament is played over four days, during which the professional golfers have to sink the ball in a total of 18 holes. The winner of the Masters not only wins a lavish amount of prize money but is also given the coveted Green Jacket, which entitles him to compete in the Masters for the rest of his life.

Incidentally, the Masters Golf Tournament is the second most difficult sporting event to get into in the USA, after the Superbowl. Ticket demand is so high that Masters spectators, known as "Patrons," have to apply for a so-called Patrons Badge via Augusta National's ticket lottery many months before the tournament in order to gain access to the golf club.

Masters Golf Tournament facts
Where Augusta, Georgia
When beginning till the middle of April
Viewers 3.5 million TV viewers;
35,000 to 40,000 viewers on the site
Price $ 1,500 to $ 5,000

#7. MLB World Series

Crowded baseball stadium

Since 1903, the MLB World Series has been synonymous with spectacular home runs, tough pitching duels, and sophisticated game tactics. The baseball season finale in October is a sporting event with a cult status that captivates not only American sports fans.

The World Series is played between the winners of the two North American baseball leagues, the National League and the American League. They face off in a best-of-seven series with a maximum of seven games. The first team to win four games is immediately crowned the MLB World Series winner and is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy.

MLB World Series facts
Where annually changing venues
When end of October until the beginning of November
Viewers around 12 million TV viewers;
34,000 to 56,000 live viewers per game (depending on the stadium size)
Price depending on the stadium and category, $ 200 to $ 8,000

#8. US Open

Tennis players in action

The US Open in New York City is the fourth Grand Slam tournament of the year for the world's best tennis players and is scheduled to begin at the end of August. Having already taken to the court at the Australian Open, the French Open, and Wimbledon, the professionals will be competing for the last major trophy of the season in the two-week-long New York tennis tournament on 22 outdoor courts.

The action takes place at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows on fast hard courts and in the categories of men's singles, men's doubles, women's singles, women's doubles, and mixed. Tennis fans will experience a particularly breathtaking atmosphere at Arthur Ashe Stadium: the world's largest tennis venue has room for over 23,700 spectators to cheer on their favorites.

US Open facts
Where New York City, New York
When end of August until mid-September
Viewers an average of 3 million TV viewers in the USA;
over 700,000 spectators in the stadiums throughout the tournament
Price depending on the court and game round, $ 50 to $ 950

#9. Stanley Cup Finals

Ice hockey players in action

Hot action on the ice rink can be witnessed every year at the final game of the North American Hockey League NHL, where the best team of the Eastern Conference fights against the winner of the Western Conference for the most important ice hockey trophy in the world, the renowned Stanley Cup.

Like most other finals in major US sports, the Stanley Cup is played in a best-of-seven series with a maximum of seven games. The matches will be carried out in the home arenas of the two finalists.

Stanley Cup facts
Where annually changing venues
When June
Viewers around 4 to 5 million TV viewers;
15,000 to 20,000 live spectators per game (depending on the size of the arena)
Price depending on the category, $ 730 to $ 10,000

#10. US Open of Surfing

Surfer in action

Surfing is booming in America and attracts more and more fans every year. The world's best wave riders gather every year at the US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, California, to perform the most impressive stunts on the surfboard in front of an amazed audience.

However, not only the best surfers of the season will be celebrated. The new inductees into the Surfers' Hall of Fame and the Surfing Walk of Fame will also be honored during the week-long sports event. In addition, sports fans will also get to see plenty of action happening on dry land, as the US Open of Surfing's side program also includes competitions for skateboarders and BMX riders.

US Open of Surfing facts
Where Huntington Beach, California
When end of July until the beginning of August
Viewers around 500,000 spectators on site
Price spectating is free of charge

#11. Boston Marathon

Writing at the Boston Marathon

The prestigious Boston Marathon is a symbol of American patriotism and fitness at the same time. As the most long-established running event in the USA, the marathon has been held every year since 1897 on Patriot's Day on the third Monday in April and is one of the most important running events in the United States, along with the New York City Marathon and the Chicago Marathon.

The high-profile starting field of the Boston Marathon consists of around 30,000 professional runners and amateurs from all over the world who have to qualify for the iconic sports event in advance by achieving fast enough times at other running events. They are supported to the finish line by around half a million sports fans along the route, who provide the runners with plenty of motivation.

Boston Marathon facts
Where Boston, Massachusetts
When third Monday in April
Viewers more than 490,000 TV viewers in the USA;
around 500,000 spectators along the route
Price spectating along the route is free of charge;
starting fee is $ 205 for US citizens and $ 255 for international runners (qualification required)

#12. Kentucky Derby

Race horses on the track

America's most famous horse race, the Kentucky Derby, is held every year on the first Saturday in May in Louisville, Kentucky, and has a very long-standing tradition. As early as 1875, Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr, the grandson of the discoverer William Clark (Lewis and Clark), founded the classic gallop race for three-year-old thoroughbreds, which also became known as the "Run for the Roses."

The racehorses only need around 2 minutes to circle the 1.25-mile (2 km) track. Even greater honors may await the winner after the race, as the Kentucky Derby is the first leg of the prestigious Triple Crown. To claim it, a horse must also win the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Belmont Stakes in Elmont, New York, following the Kentucky Derby.

Kentucky Derby facts
Where Louisville, Kentucky
When first Saturday in May
Viewers 16 million TV viewers;
165,000 spectators along the track
Price depending on the category, $ 80 to $ 6,000

#13. Indy 500

Indycars on the track

The Indycar race in Indianapolis, also affectionately known as the "Indy 500," is the longest-running car race in the world. Since 1911, the fast cars, which look like Formula 1 vehicles, have been turning their laps at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the US state of Indiana on the Sunday before Memorial Day. The race covers 500 miles (around 804 km) or 200 laps on an oval track of about 4 km in length.

In the long history of the Indianapolis 500, numerous peculiarities and traditions have developed around the sports event named "Greatest Spectacle in Racing," and these are an absolute must for spectators. For example, the starting grid is always exactly 33 drivers, patriotic songs are played during the pre-race ceremonies, and the first-place finisher celebrates his victory with a bottle of milk.

Indy 500 facts
Where Indianapolis, Indiana
When end of May, Sunday before Memorial Day
Viewers around 5 million TV viewers;
around 300,000 spectators along the race track
Price depending on the category, $ 50 to $ 2,300

#14. Cheyenne Frontier Days

Woman on horseback with USA flag

Welcome to the Wild West! The outdoor rodeo spectacle of Cheyenne Frontier Days is the very essence of the American West. It has been held annually in Cheyenne, Wyoming, since 1897 and ensures that virtually all hotels in the region are booked up for ten days. Every year, around 250,000 visitors make their way to the "World's Largest Outdoor Rodeo and Western Celebration," as the western festival proudly calls itself.

The program includes various rodeo competitions of the North American Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and the international Professional Bull Riders Inc (PBR). In addition, visitors will be entertained with concerts, shows, exhibits, rides, farmers markets, and much more at the fairgrounds.

Cheyenne Frontier Days facts
Where Cheyenne, Wyoming
When end of July
Viewers 2.1 million TV viewers;
over 250,000 live audience
Price admission to the festival grounds is $ 5;
admission to rodeo events and concerts between $ 20 and $ 100

#15. MLB All-Star Game

Baseball players in action

It is a great honor for any professional baseball player to be selected for the annual MLB All-Star Game. Also known as the Midsummer Classic, the spectacle for the public, which features two selection teams from the American League and the National League competing against each other, interrupts the regular season in July after about half of the league games have been played.

The field players assigned are determined by the baseball fans themselves with the help of the All-Star Final Vote, a vote via the internet and SMS. The pitchers are chosen by the managers, and the reserve players are selected by players and managers. However, it is not only the competition between the two American baseball leagues that is exciting. At the end of the game, the most valuable player is also awarded the prestigious All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award.

MLB All-Star Game facts
Where annually changing venues
When July
Viewers around 8 million TV viewers;
40,000 to 50,000 live viewers in the stadium
Price depending on the category, $ 220 to $ 17,500

Tip: WrestleMania

Wrestling professionals in action

Sports or show? This question will probably never be fully answered. The very special form of wrestling "made in the USA" demands a great deal of fitness from the protagonists, but it is also highly choreographed and, to a large extent, pure entertainment.

The stars of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) show spectacular actions in the ring, but there is also a lot of drama outside the ring. This is because the wrestlers embody characters (gimmicks) that have been specially designed for them and regularly get into feuds or forge alliances with their colleagues. A typical American spectacle that you should definitely experience live!

The WWE tours across the USA all year round with the live shows "Raw" (every Monday) and "SmackDown" (every Friday). In addition, there are about 15 major events (Pay-Per-Views) per year, where the arenas fill up with as many as 100,000 spectators. The most important Pay-Per-View event of the year is WrestleMania in spring.

WrestleMania facts
Where annually changing venues
When end of March till the beginning of April
Viewers 4 to 4.5 million TV viewers on average;
100,000 live audience
Price 2-day ticket: $ 140 to $ 1,600 depending on the category

The world of US sports

Would you like to dive deeper into the world of US sports? In our comprehensive guides to the "Big 4" American sports, you'll learn everything you need to know about American Football, baseball, basketball, and ice hockey in the USA.

ESTA – visa-free to the USA

With an ESTA, you can stay 90 days visa-free in the USA. Apply online now!