While the Super Bowl will no doubt be the highlight of this weekend for many Americans, there is one event that it can not contend with in the cuteness category: Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl!
For the past 19 years, Animal Planet has hosted the national call-to-adoption event by setting up the stars of the show on a puppy-sized football stadium and field, and splitting them into two teams—Team Ruff, in orange, versus Team Fluff, in blue—to the delight of millions of viewers as they mimic an American football game. And this year Warner Bros. Discovery will be expanding its broadcast by simulcasting it on TBS, TNets, Discovery Channel, Discovery +, and HBO Max, in addition to Animal Planet.
Dan Schachner, who has been the "ruff-eree" for the Puppy Bowl for the past 12 years, told "Variety": "What keeps me coming back is seeing how can we grow our roster. This year, we have the most amount of dogs ever, plus we're repping 67 different shelters from across the country."
Here are a few interesting tidbits about the three-hour televised event, and how the preshow leading up to America's most popular sporting event is making an impact in the animal rescue and adoption world:
- There are 122 pup players (from 67 shelters and rescues across 34 states) ready to take the field on Sunday, up from approximately 60 dogs from when Schachner hosted his first Puppy Bowl.
- 100% of the puppies this year—all 122 of them—have already found their forever homes.
- Schachner reported that the shelters that work with the Puppy Bowl always report an uptick in adoptions around the time of the event.
- Fan favorites including exclusive interviews with coaches and players, the puppy cheer squad, the water-bowl cam, the slo-mo cam, and the end zone pylon cams are all returning.
- This year's event will feature for the first time a Native American animal organization and a puppy player from Dominica, West Indies.
"You can watch us and then watch the human football game, but I guarantee you ours is cuter. Ours has more cuddles. Ours has more kisses. Ours will make you fall in love. And no matter who you're rooting for in that other game, everybody's a winner at the Puppy Bowl, because they all get adopted," said Schachner.
"Puppy Bowl XIX" will air this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, TBS, discovery+ and HBO Max.