• Joseph DeLorme

What is the ‘Big Flush’

Updated: Apr 8



We all know that the Superbowl holds the attention of millions of people every year who tune in to see the incredible game, strange commercials, and over the top halftime show. The ‘Big Flush’ refers to the belief that Superbowl viewers will abstain from using the bathroom for the entire first half of the game. After the first half of the game concludes, millions of people supposedly get up from their couch and use the bathroom. This simultaneous use of the bathroom wreaks havoc on the municipal sewer systems and causes widespread damage and backups. While funny to think about, the actual chance of this happening even in a major city is pretty slim, making it a complete myth.


Origins Of The Myth

All urban legends and myths start somewhere, and the ‘Big Flush’ can be traced all the way back to a radio show that ran in the 1930s called Amos ‘n’ Andy. It was thought because of the massive popularity of the show, that families would sit with complete focus on their radio until a commercial break, at which time the collective population would run to the bathroom to relieve themselves. The actual chance of enough simultaneous flushes to break a city’s sewer system is almost nonexistent because municipal water and sewage systems are designed for the incredible stress of serving a large population.


Another popular point in time where this myth was believed by a large number of people was in 1983 when the final episode of M*A*S*H aired on television. Rumors spread quickly through large cities that viewers were so enraptured by the finale that the sewer systems below ground experienced widespread backups as people used the bathroom at the conclusion of the finale. The only problem with the rumor is that the finale was 2.5 hours long and contained multiple commercial breaks in which someone could run to the bathroom. This logic hasn’t stopped the rumor, however, and we still hear stories similar to this one today during large broadcast events.

Has the ‘Big Flush’ Ever Happened?

As we discussed at length above, the ‘Big Flush’ is a funny idea, with very little actual evidence to suggest it happens during every Superbowl. The Superbowl is 3 - 4 hours long, and features almost as many commercial breaks as actual game time, giving viewers plenty of opportunities to run to the bathroom. Only those who would refuse to get up until the end of the game would experience any type of bathroom emergency.

The closest we can get to an actual occurrence of the ‘Big Flush’ is in Salt Lake City during the 1984 Superbowl. During the game a massive 16-inch water main burst causing a headache for city employees. Even though the water main breaking was simply a strange coincidence, many people consider this case in 1984 to be definitive proof that the ‘Big Flush’ is a real event. Whether or not you believe in the ‘Big Flush’ our team at Jolly Plumbing is ready to help you have the best Superbowl celebration yet. From plumbing inspections to emergency repairs, our team is available to serve you. Give us a call today!

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