Travis Kelce at his Kelce Jam event. Travis Kelce at his Kelce Jam event. (Medium Rare.)

Friday night not only saw night two of the NFL Draft in Kansas City, it saw Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce’s first-ever music and food festival. “Kelce Jam,” a 50-50 ownership partnership between Kelce and events company Medium Rare, featured performers Machine Gun Kelly, Rick Ross, Loud Luxury and more. It also showed off famed Kansas City restaurants Joe’s & Q39, had craft cocktails, and had brand activations with the Wingstop Flavor Zone and Wingstop Chicken Wing Challenge, the UberEats Merchant Row, Papa John’s, the Licor 43 Mixology Bar, Tickpick VIP Lounge, Tito’s, and more.

Ahead of Friday’s event, Kelce and Medium Rare co-founders and co-CEOs Adam Richman and Joe Silberzweig spoke to AA about this by e-mail. Kelce said a music festival was something he’d long wanted to do.

“I’ve been wanting to create my own music festival for a while now and really celebrate the city in a fun and unique way,” he said. “”I’ve loved festivals and concerts for as long as I can remember and am pumped to now concept and own my very own live event.”

Kelce said he felt like a music festival here was filling a need for the city.

“It’s crazy to me KC didn’t have a big annual music festival,” he said. “I wanted to do something really special for the city, showcasing some incredible musical acts and bringing some of the best food in the city together.”

He said putting together this lineup of performers was personal for him, with it being artists he enjoyed and had connections to.

“Machine Gun Kelly is from my hometown in Cleveland. We have been boys for a while now, and he was the perfect fit to headline our first-ever Kelce Jam. Then, Rick Ross the boss…one of my favorite rappers and always in my pre-game/warmup mixes! And my boys Loud Luxury, they are killing it and bring crazy DJ energy. No doubt they will have the crowd rocking.”

Machine Gun Kelly plays at Kelce Jam.
Machine Gun Kelly plays at Kelce Jam.

He said the draft in Kansas City presented him a great opportunity to launch this.

“With the draft headed to Kansas City and as the perfect way to continue celebrating our Super Bowl victory, it made perfect sense to launch Kelce Jam, one of KC’s biggest music festivals ever.”

Silberzweig said the combination of doing this around the draft and of this being in the city Kelce plays in helped Medium Rare make this a massive event, even larger than the ones they hold around the Super Bowl each year.

“It’s awesome to be working with an athlete in his prime in his hometown market,” he said. “Travis in KC has allowed us to scale up much larger than our Super Bowl events. This past Super Bowl in Phoenix, we produced Shaq’s Fun House, Gronk Beach, Guy Fieri’s Tailgate, and Sports Illustrated The Party, all of which were 4,000-10,000 fans. Kelce Jam sold 10,000 tickets in 20 mins and we are expecting close to 20,000 fans…a tribute to Travis’s legendary status in the market!”

Kelce said those previous Medium Rare events with other athletes and celebrities convinced him they were the right outlet to partner with here.

“After huge festivals with Shaq, Gronk, and Guy Fieri at the Super Bowl, it was clear the Medium Rare team concepts and executes events at the highest level,” he said. “What is so cool about all of their events is they are not just concerts. They really work with their partners to bring their personalities to life in a live festival setting. And in this case, we are showcasing my favorite artists, food, drinks, fun games and installations, and more!”

The Kelce Jam partners (L to R): Aaron and André Eanes from Eanes Management, Travis Kelce, and Joe Silberzweig and Adam Richman, co-founders of Medium Rare.
The Kelce Jam partners (L to R): Aaron and André Eanes from Eanes Management, Travis Kelce, and Joe Silberzweig and Adam Richman, co-founders of Medium Rare.

He said it was also important to him to have an ownership stake in the event.

“At this point in my career, I’m over just putting my name on things,” he said. “I love being an entrepreneur and being able to build with my partners. I’ve learned I really get out what I put into my businesses, and Kelce Jam is certainly no different. It’s great to be truly invested in all of my projects and I can’t wait to see what Kelce Jam grows into.”

Silberzweig said all of Medium Rare’s events with athletes and celebrities are done as 50-50 partnerships, and that’s important for having the people they’re working with truly committed to those events.

“At Medium Rare, what makes all of our events so unique is they are all 50/50 joint venture partnerships with our celeb/athlete partners,” he said. “Rather than just paying Travis an appearance fee in this case, he is highly incentivized to build the brand and create the best product possible for his fans.”

Richman said beyond the draft overlap, it was the perfect time to team up with Kelce given his success both on (including Super Bowl titles in 2020 and this year, plus his fourth first-team All-Pro selection this season) and off the field (including his hosting of Saturday Night Live and his New Heights podcast with brother Jason and podcast merchandise line with Homage).

“It’s been an amazing year for Travis; a second Super Bowl victory, hosting SNL, the country’s #1 sports podcast,” Richman said. “There’s so much momentum, and it felt like perfect timing to launch his personal live event brand—Kelce Jam. With the NFL Draft headed to KC, and as the perfect way for the city to continue celebrating their Super Bowl victory, we knew it was the right time to launch the brand.”

He said when they’re looking to launch new events, the key for them is finding the right personality.

“At Medium Rare, we love working with iconic athletes and celebrities to create live events and bring their personalities to life. The key to success is an iconic personality that also has appeal to brand partners that help us fuel the event.”

He said their events all have different revenue models split between tickets and sponsorships, and a particular appeal on the sponsorship side here was for the brand partners to get to work with Kelce.

“All of our events have unique revenue models made up of tickets and sponsorship,” he said. “In the case of Kelce Jam, we have some amazing brand partners powering the event that also have the opportunity to work directly with Travis. Support from our brand partners allows us to enhance the event and overall fan experience.”

A Papa John's activation at Kelce Jam.
A Papa John’s activation at Kelce Jam.

Kelce said this event fits in nicely with his other off-field ventures. He and Jason were able to record a live episode of New Heights around the draft as well, and he said the podcast, merchandise, and festival can all reinforce each other.

“It’s awesome to have different ventures in all these verticals which really play off each other and lift each other up.”

The crowd at Kelce Jam.
The crowd at Kelce Jam.

Richman said the combination of this being in Kelce’s home market (to appeal to locals) and being around the draft (to appeal to travelling fans) was a perfect fit.

“With 300,000 fans headed to draft weekend each year, there is a real need and void in the market for fun events,” he said. “We knew Kelce Jam would stand out big-time in KC, and when we sold 10,000 tickets in 30 mins it was clear this was the case!”

Kelce said he wished there had been more events around the draft when he was selected in 2013. That was during the era where the draft was still held in New York City (as it was from 1965-2014), rather than moving to different cities each year with an attached festival.

“The draft has really turned into a mega event,” he said. “When I was drafted, there was nothing fun to do afterwards. Kelce Jam is a celebration of all the new rookies entering the league and a city-wide celebration for KC.”

Travis Kelce on stage.
Travis Kelce on stage at Kelce Jam.

The 33-year-old Kelce is obviously still playing at a high level, but he did just finish his 10th NFL season. He said his primary focus is still on on-field success, but he’s enjoying growing his off-field ventures and preparing for a post-playing career.

“Obviously my focus is still on the field and winning more Super Bowls with my Chiefs, but it’s so cool to look ahead and be set up for success in my next chapter.”

[Photos supplied by Medium Rare]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.