By Chelsea J. Carter
(CNN) — Call it the Super Bowl MVP — the most valuable power outage.
For 35 bewildering minutes Sunday night, the Super Bowl showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers ground to a halt when half of the lights in the New Orleans Superdome went out.
Players stretched on the field. The more than 71,000 fans in attendance did the wave.
And with no immediate explanation for the outage, social media lit up.
From Twitter to Facebook, from Tumblr to Flickr, it seemed just about everywhere in the social media-sphere somebody had something to say — sometimes funny, sometimes not so much — about what became known online as “the blackout bowl.”
There were even those who felt forced to say something about being, well, forced to say something.
“The worst part about this power outage is that people at parties were forced to talk to each other,” Fortune Feimster, a writer for the E! show “Chelsea Lately,” tweeted.
The brand bowl
Within four minutes of the outage, advertisers had sent out their first tweets.
Nabisco’s Oreo cookie was among the first to jump on the Twitter brandwagon, with an ad featuring the cookie on a partially blacked out page.
“You can still dunk in the dark,” it read.
The people behind Tide laundry detergent went up with a Twitter ad that read: “We can’t get your #blackout, but we can get your stains out. #SuperBowl #TidePower.”
Even Audi took a swipe at its competitor, tweeting that it was sending “LED lights” over to the dome, whose official name is the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
In fact, the outage was the No. 1 Twitter-related moment of the Super Bowl, generating 231,000 tweets per minute.
The second big moment? The 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Baltimore Ravens Jacoby Jones. But even that only generated merely 185,000 tweets per minute, according to the site.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu promised answers.
“In the coming days, I expect a full after action report from all parties involved.”
The power company said it wasn’t to blame, and stadium officials apologized but said little else until well after the game.
And then, in a statement hours later, Superdome officials said a piece of equipment designed to monitor the electrical load “sensed an abnormality in the system.”
“Once the issue was detected, the sensing equipment operated as designed and opened a breaker, causing power to be partially cut to the Superdome in order to isolate the issue,” the statement said.
It still isn’t clear what the “abnormality” was — but more than a few people had their own suspicions.
A majority on social media blamed it on the fans of the 49ers, who were trailing 28-to-6 in the third quarter before the blackout.
Photos began quickly showing up on Flickr, Twitter and Facebook of the so-called hands of a 49ers’ fan reaching into electrical power box to turn off the power, with the words: “They not winning that easy.”
Conspiracy, cried a Ravens fan on Facebook. “If the 49ers win after this, you all know who’s to blame.”
Even Justin Timberlake had something to say about it, tweeting #momentumshift.
There may be something to it.
After the power was restored, the 49ers scored three times in just four minutes.
Then again, maybe not.
“Whatever. Who hasn’t blacked out in New Orleans,” one person said on Twitter.
Or in San Francisco, for that matter.
In December 2011, the lights went out twice during the same game at Candlestick Park. The 49ers won that game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, 20-3.
Blame it on Bane
Some said it was the curse of the Superdome — despite hosting seven Super Bowl games and its more than $300 million renovation following Hurricane Katrina. The stadium was built near a cemetery and New Orleans Saints fans have long said it was the reason the team had fared so poorly.
Some on Twitter and Facebook joked Saints quarterback Drew Brees was responsible, pulling the power plug to get even for the team failing to make football’s big show.
Then there were those who pointed to Bane, the villain in the Batman movie “The Dark Night Rises.”
In the movie, Bane mines a football field in Pittsburgh that explodes after a great scoring run by Steeler Hines Ward.
“Investigation confirms not even Bane’s power outage attempt can save the 49ers,” said one Twitter user with the handle The Batman.
The general consensus on social media appeared to be that Beyonce’s high-wattage half-time performance was mostly likely to blame for the blackout.
“Beyonce blew the fuse! Genius!” tweeted singer Adam Lambert.
Matchbox Twenty guitarist Paul Doucette, who was at the game, tweeted a picture of the blackout.
“Beyonce left and apparently took electricity with her,” he said. “Damn she’s good.”
In the end, the Ravens may have won Superbowl XLVII in New Orleans. But the power outage won its social media time slot.
CNN’s Jethro Mullen contributed to this report.
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