US Troops Can Now Win Super Bowl Tickets Through a Military 'Madden' Tournament

"The only yardstick for success our society has is being a champion. No one remembers anything else." - John Madden (EA Sports)

Football is finally back, and though we're still in the preseason, even Dallas Cowboys fans are excited their team hasn't let them down yet. Some of us are already looking forward to Super Bowl LVIII, but while the rest of us will have to scramble for expensive tickets in the coming months, U.S. troops who play Madden NFL 24 are already getting a chance to lock in their ticket early.

On Sept. 1, 2023, the NFL and the United Service Organizations (USO) will begin registration for the third annual Salute to Service Showdown, an all-out EA Sports Madden NFL 24 tournament open to active-duty, reserve and National Guard service members anywhere in the world.

The grand prize for the two tournament winners is a trip to Las Vegas from the USO and two tickets (each) to Super Bowl LVIII on Feb. 11, 2024, courtesy of the NFL.

The Chargers have never looked so good. Seriously. That's the least realistic part of this video.

The tournament includes crossplay for PlayStation (PS5), Xbox (Series X/S) and PC. Qualifying rounds will take four weeks and will be grouped among service members in three geographic areas: the Americas, the Pacific and Europe, Middle East and Africa. Each region will then have a virtual playoff in October.

Finals for the Salute to Service Showdown will take place in-person at a live NFL game when the Cowboys host the New York Giants in Arlington, Texas, on Nov. 12. The top eight service members will win travel and accommodation to the finals, where two winners will stand tall above all others.

Winners for the 2022 Salute to Service Showdown were Marine Corps Sgt. Ali Zaidi, who won the XBox bracket, and Marine Corps Reserve Sgt. Kolton Lehman, who won the PlayStation bracket. They both attended Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Ariz., in February 2023.

"When [the clock] actually went [to] zero, it was shocked silence," Lehman told "So ridiculous, like, 'I'm video gaming; I'm going to the Super Bowl.' Saying that out loud now, it doesn't really register."

Marine Corps Reserve Sgt. Kolton Lehman, left, is on the field at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas with other finalists for the USO/NFL Salute to Service Showdown Madden tournament in November.
Marine Corps Reserve Sgt. Kolton Lehman, left, is on the field at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas with other finalists for the USO/NFL Salute to Service Showdown Madden tournament in November 2022. (Photo courtesy of the USO)

Speaking of registering, military gamers who want to compete in the NFL-USO Salute to Service Showdown can go to the USO's Battlefy registration page starting Sept. 1, 2023. Players can also keep up with this tournament and all the other USO gaming competitions on the USO's Discord.

You can also follow the tournament on social media by checking out the USO's Facebook, X and Instagram accounts.

Whether you're a Houston Texans fan stationed at Minot or a Chicago Bears fan in Yokosuka, you can and should enter the 2023 Salute to Service Showdown. You might be the only chance either team has at a winning season.

-- Blake Stilwell spent his life as a Bengals fan, long before Joe Burrow showed up, and feels like he earned the right to make fun of your team. He can be reached at He can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, or on LinkedIn.

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