Since 1997, the Dallas Cowboys have turned the halftime shows of their Thanksgiving games into headlines as well.
Entertainers, some with Dallas-Fort Worth or Oklahoma ties, put on a show at midfield with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and the Salvation Army’s oversized Red Kettle nearby.
It’s a call to action to donate to the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign, which is now in its 133rd year.
Dolly Parton will take the stage during halftime of the annual Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day game against the Washington Commanders at AT&T Stadium on Nov. 23.
With another Cowboys Thanksgiving game on the horizon, here’s a look at some of the highlights from the holiday halftime shows from 2007 to 2022:
It depends on your taste in music, of course. But the artist who put in the best effort has to be Selena Gomez, who grew up a few miles east in Grand Prairie, off Interstate 30. She admitted that she watched the Cowboys with her family at home every Thanksgiving and reviewed old halftime performances to prepare. It paid off. She brought the energy and the seven-minute show had no evident glitches with performances of “Naturally,” “Round & Round,” “Come & Get It” and “Who Says.” Was it the kind of performance you’d put on in the background as you played backyard football to work off that heavy Thanksgiving turkey? Meh. Not really.
Country music is usually a winning combination for a team named the Cowboys. But on Thanksgiving, it’s not been a formula for success. The Cowboys have won only four of 15 games in which a country performer had played halftime. This year, Dolly Parton will be the halftime performer in the Cowboys’ Nov. 23 game against the Washington Commanders.
The tough luck started with Reba McEntire in 1997 in a 27-14 loss to the Tennessee Oilers. Last year, Luke Combs played at halftime in the Cowboys’ 36-33 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. The only country performers to show up for a win have been Eric Church (2016), Carrie Underwood (2006), Garland’s LeAnn Rimes (2002) and Clint Black (1999). Pop music performers fare better as they go 7-3 with Meghan Trainor (2018), Selena Gomez (2013), Enrique Iglesias (2011), the Jonas Brothers (2008 and 2022), Kelly Clarkson (2007) and Destiny’s Child (2004) playing winning halftimes.
The boy band performed in the final Thanksgiving game at Texas Stadium in Irving. Now, a ... uh, man band (they range in ages from 30 to 35), they’re back. Their 2008 tween fans who screamed for them on the infield are nearing their mid-30s (and probably still haven’t seen the Cowboys win a Super Bowl in their lifetimes). The Jonas Brothers brought the energy because it was the year they were Grammy Award winners.
Maybe they were charged up because the Cowboys had taken a 24-6 halftime lead over the Seattle Seahawks. In 2022, they got the Cowboys going for a 28-20 NFC East victory over the New York Giants. Brothers Nick, Joe and Kevin have a D-FW connection, having once lived in the Vaquero neighborhood in Westlake and spent time in Dallas. In 2008, they broke onto the Dallas entertainment scene with a performance at the State Fair of Texas.
In a less firework-sy show, Crow performed “Good Is Good” off her album Wildflowers and “If It Makes You Happy.” Crow isn’t from D-FW, but she has romantic connections, dating Dallas actor Owen Wilson in the late 1990s, and Plano cyclist Lance Armstrong. Crow and Armstrong had announced their engagement two months before the show, but split up a few months later.
Iglesias was joined by Pitbull, who hasn’t met a tune he can’t turn into a dance beat. Pitbull joined Iglesias to perform “I Like It” and “I like How It Feels.” The presence of Miami-born Pitbull didn’t help the Dolphins. The Cowboys defeated Miami, 20-19. Pitbull returned to AT&T Stadium in 2014 as the Cowboys fell to the Philadelphia Eagles 33-10. Next time, Pitbull, bring Iglesias.
Year: Artist, Cowboys’ outcome