Who Is Jackson Mahomes and Why Are Taylor Swift’s Fans Concerned?


As Taylor Swift and Brittany Mahomes, the wife of Patrick Mahomes, quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs, slapped hands and bumped hips in a touchdown celebration that took over social media on Sunday night, a man in a white T-shirt and a backward baseball cap clapped behind them. The handshake, which was shown during the broadcast of a game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, finished with both women turning around and celebrating with the man, who bent down to their level with a broad smile.

Nothing about the man’s actions was particularly noteworthy. But the Swifties who had not followed football before Ms. Swift began going to Chiefs games this season soon realized what N.F.L. fans had known for years: Jackson Mahomes, who is Patrick Mahomes’s brother, has a knack for getting himself into the spotlight. And his personal history, which includes an arrest on charges of sexual battery, has the ability to complicate what has been a fairly straightforward relationship between Travis Kelce, a tight end for the Chiefs and one of football’s most beloved players, and Ms. Swift, one of the world’s most popular musicians.

It was a situation that generated plenty of memes, and more than a few calls for the N.F.L. or the Chiefs to step in.

Ms. Swift’s fans are known for finding Easter eggs in virtually anything she does and sniffing out any potential flaws in her romantic relationships. What they are learning about Jackson Mahomes is likely to continue to generate a great deal of discussion.

Mr. Mahomes, 23, is the younger brother of Patrick Mahomes, 28, the quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs. With 1.1 million followers on TikTok, Jackson Mahomes is a social media influencer who has parlayed his connection to his famous brother, and his friendship with his sister-in-law, Brittany Mahomes, to be a regular fixture at N.F.L. games and beyond.

Before Sunday, Mr. Mahomes had not been much of a presence at games attended by Ms. Swift, who was at Arrowhead Stadium to cheer for Mr. Kelce.

At an N.F.L. game in 2021, Jackson recorded a TikTok dance on the field at the Washington Commanders’ stadium while standing on the uniform number of Sean Taylor, an N.F.L. star who was murdered in 2007 and was being honored with a jersey retirement ceremony that day. Mr. Mahomes eventually apologized and said he had not intentionally danced on Mr. Taylor’s number.

“We were directed to stand in the area and I meant absolutely no disrespect to him or his family,” Mr. Mahomes said in a statement posted on social media.

Earlier that year, Mr. Mahomes also had a run-in with fans in Baltimore in which he responded to their taunts after a Chiefs loss by pouring water on them. He later justified the behavior by saying the fans were “thirsty.”

Jackson was briefly jailed in May and wound up being charged with three counts of aggravated sexual battery and one count of battery. His arrest came after an encounter on Feb. 25 in which Aspen Vaughn, the owner of a restaurant in Overland Park, Kan., said that she had been discussing an earlier incident with him, in which he was accused of shoving a customer, and that he grabbed her by the throat and kissed her at least twice.

“He forcibly kissed me out of nowhere,” Ms. Vaughn told The Kansas City Star. She said the advances were unwelcome and shocking.

The encounter was captured on video. While Mr. Mahomes and his representatives have said that he is prohibited from discussing what happened, they issued a statement when the accusation was first reported that said they had “substantial evidence refuting the claims of Jackson’s accuser.”

He was released on a $100,000 bond and his preliminary hearing in the case will be held on Tuesday, after the original August date was pushed back because the judge in the case tested positive for the coronavirus.

We may not know for a while if Ms. Swift’s camp will step in to make sure there is more distance between her and Jackson, regardless of how his legal situation is resolved. That is because Ms. Swift’s Eras Tour resumes on Nov. 9 in Argentina, with the South American leg of the tour finishing on Nov. 26 with a show in Brazil.

Preparations for those dates could keep her away from Kansas City’s games on Sunday (in Denver) and on Nov. 5 (against Miami in Frankfurt as part of the N.F.L.’s International Series).

There has been rampant speculation online, however, that Mr. Kelce could turn the tables on the situation and visit Ms. Swift. The Chiefs do not play on Nov. 12, and while there would probably be practices in some form after the team returns from Europe, Mr. Kelce would be free to do as he pleases late in the week, meaning he could attend one of the shows in Buenos Aires.

With another break in the Eras Tour scheduled for December and January, Ms. Swift could be back for more Chiefs games as the regular season winds down. Her return would seemingly be welcomed by the team. After Mr. Kelce recorded 179 yards receiving on Sunday — the second-highest single-game total of his career — Chiefs Coach Andy Reid made it clear that he did not view Ms. Swift as a distraction.

“Kelce keeps getting better with time,” Mr. Reid said. “Taylor can stay around all she wants.”


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