7 Facts About Kansas City's Travis Kelce (& The Fun Way He Spent His First Paycheck)

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce is no stranger to Super Bowl glory. In his first career Super Bowl appearance, per the LA Times, Kelce and his team's quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, were largely credited for leading their team to victory in 2020 against the 49ers, and bringing the City of Fountains its first championship in 50 years. One year later, however, victory eluded his team with a defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the 55th Super Bowl in Tampa Bay, Florida. 

Born on October 5, 1989, the Cleveland Heights, Ohio, native loved sports as a child but excelled at football in particular. His older brother is Jason Kelce, who plays center for the Philadelphia Eagles. They both attended Cleveland Heights high school and played for its football team, but Travis played the quarterback position. According to his alma mater, he was a standout player and became a prospect for several colleges in Florida, Michigan, Connecticut, and his home state of Ohio.

Travis Kelce's road to the NFL

After graduating from high school, he made the decision to stay in Ohio and attend the University of Cincinnati, via ESPN. It was here Travis Kelce began playing the tight end position. In college, Kelce continued to excel at the sport and even earned himself the Tight End of the Year award at the College Football Performance Awards. In an interview with The Cincinnati Enquirer, Kelce praised his time there for one of the reasons he's a star at the game.

"I learned a lot of value lessons. That being, there are a lot of people in my corner," said Kelce. "I've been very fortunate to get to where I am today and to have that mentality throughout life has really helped me become a pro."

In 2013, he was drafted to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he's been playing since. To date, he has completed over 10,300 receiving yards, according to Stat Muse.

He had a reality show

When the average single person is looking for some romance, they may likely have to turn to online dating. But such menial tasks as creating profiles, chatting to potential matches, and going on actual dates are not for the rich and famous — they get television shows and get to meet a host of admirers at once. 

Travis Kelce was one of them. He partnered with E! Entertainment in 2016 and had his own reality TV dating show called "Catching Kelce." The show had only one season, and his choice in a romantic partner apparently ruffled some feathers with fans of the show, per Yahoo! News. But Kelce's relationship with the winner of the show was just as short-lived, and the two broke up not long after it ended. Despite that, the network decided not to renew the show for a second season.

Kelce is a charitable man

Like a lot of celebrities and athletes, giving back to people is often a major commitment, and Kelce is no different. Eighty-Seven and Running is a charitable nonprofit organization, which he founded in 2015. The program is aimed at providing motivational opportunities and support for children in the underserved communities of Kansas City. Through a series of events, campaigns, and online challenges, the organization champions its cause by helping bridge gaps that leave behind underprivileged kids. 

In 2021, Travis Kelce won the #WPMOYChallenge on Twitter and awarded the Kansas City community with $25,000, according to the news outlet KSHB 41. Every year the organization also hosts a family-oriented fashion show to fundraise for their mission. The funds often go to hospitals and community organizations. Eighty-Seven and Running often collaborates with local and national companies, such as Papa Johns to connect Kelce with fans and fulfill his philanthropic causes.

He was in a long-term relationship with influencer Kayla Nicole

Beginning in 2017, Travis Kelce was in a relationship with Kayla Nicole. Their relationship would last for five years, though it was of an on-again, off-again nature. Various rumors popped up as the two split and made up, including allegations of cheating that Kelce felt compelled to answer in a since-deleted tweet (via TMZ). Their final break-up saw him accused of being cheap. "Don't buy into that s***," he told The Pivot Podcast, adding that Nicole was financially secure and that the two regularly helped each other out over their time together.

Nicole, a graduate of Pepperdine University, according to her Instagram, is a reporter, influencer, and model. She's covered and interviewed subjects related to sports and entertainment, and she had 639,000 followers on Instagram as of February 2023. Nicole also has her own fitness brand, Strong is Sexy.

He hosts the New Heights podcast with his brother

Travis Kelce's brother Jason is also an NFL player. Though the two are family, they're also competitors; Travis serves as a tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, while Jason is a center for the Philadelphia Eagles. Besides playing in the NFL, the brothers have plenty to say about the league and their game of choice. Since September 8, 2022, they've come together every week to do just that on New Heights with Jason & Travis Kelce, a podcast devoted to lighthearted football commentary, recollections, and interviews.

According to The Athletic, New Heights was discussed for three years before the brothers finally committed to doing it. Their show ranked second on podcast charts for Apple and third for Spotify in February 2023. Apart from a solid audience base, however, Jason and Travis have enjoyed learning things they never knew about their fellow players and their family, and the show has helped the brothers to bond. "During the course of the season, you get caught up in the routine of things," said Travis (via NBC Sports). "What this did was [give] us a scheduled 2-3 hour window where we have to talk to each other and we have to talk about what we're going through ... it's almost been like therapy, man."

He spent his first big paycheck on Marty McFly's shoes

A career in the NFL comes with a handsome salary. A new player can find himself flush with cash, capable of indulging in hobbies, collections, and whims. Sometimes, spending newfound wealth can run ahead of financial stability, as Travis Kelce shared with Club Shay Shay. "I should have been on '30 for 30: Broke' the way I was spending," he joked, referencing ESPN's documentary series.

With his first check from the NFL, Kelce bought himself two long-treasured items. One was a Rolex watch. The other was a pair of Nike Air Mags, replicas of the self-tying shoes Marty McFly gets in the 2015 version of Hill Valley in "Back to the Future Part II." "When I was walking in this empty apartment with some Marty McFlys on and a Rolex, man, I felt like I was the coolest guy in the world," Kelce told host Shannon Sharpe.

Unfortunately for Kelce, he burned through his first check so quickly that he struggled to pay his rent by the end of the month. He told Sharpe that he always cautions new players to find an honest financial advisor to start managing their money from the beginning.

He initially set out to be a quarterback

Travis Kelce has played tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs in his time with the team. But in his earliest football days, he had his eyes on another position. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer (via The Sporting News), Kelce wanted to be a quarterback when he started playing in his junior year of high school. While the team's performance that year and the next was uneven, Kelce did manage to accumulate some impressive statistics and the attention of recruiters from college ball teams.

Kelce opted to attend the University of Cincinnati, like his brother Jason had done. Besides the family connection, the football team there was prepared to accept him as a quarterback: According to The Cincinnati Enquirer, Kelce had offers from other schools, but they came with a shift to tight end or defensive end. He saw some time on the field in his coveted role, but after being suspended for the 2010 season, head coach Butch Jones began developing Kelce as a tight end.