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Zac Brown Band to headline pre-Super Bowl concert

Grammy-winning group Zac Brown Band will headline a pre-game concert at NRG Stadium prior to kickoff, the NFL announced Friday.

The Atlanta country rockers will will perform “My Old Man” from their upcoming new album “Welcome Home.”

>> Read more trending stories 

The group will be accompanied by indie-pop group Fitz and the Tantrums on stage before the championship game.

Both performances will air during the Fox NFL pregame show.

>> For complete coverage of Super Bowl LI, click here  

Zac Brown Band and country singer Luke Bryan, who will sing the National Anthem, both have roots in Georgia.

Lady Gaga will perform at halftime.

>> Lady Gaga ups anticipation of Super Bowl on social media 

Other performers who will appear during Sunday's festivities include, "Hamilton" stars Phillipa Soo, Renee Elise Goldsberry and Jasmine Cephas Jones, who will sing "America the Beautiful," according to Billboard.

Falcons fans stranded after thinking they booked trip to Super Bowl

Some Atlanta Falcons fans are upset after they paid money for a bus trip to Houston, but the bus never showed up. Fans were even more upset when the woman who organized the trip showed up in Houston.

>> Read more trending stories  

Carolyn Freeman is known as the Bird Lady. She is the unofficial mascot of the Falcons.

>> For complete coverage of Super Bowl LI, click here    She said she is not the bad person people are making her out to be.

"I know I'm a good person. People love me. Even though people try and turn on me and be mad right now," Freeman told WSB-TV.

Falcons fans are upset with her because many of them believe she turned on them. Freeman organized a bus trip from Atlanta to Houston for Falcons fans.

Some people signed up for packages that included event tickets and hotel rooms. When fans showed up Wednesday to head to Houston, there was no bus, no tickets and no hotel rooms.  Freeman said it wasn't her fault.

"I got lied to, and I got scammed," she said, near tears.

Freeman said a friend told her about a man who wanted her to be the face of the bus trip. Her face is on the flyer.

But she said fans paid him for the trip through his website, and she had nothing to do with the money.

Freeman said that now, he won't return her calls.

WSB-TV tried to call him, but got no answer. The station didn't name the man because he hasn't been charged.

Fans became incensed when they saw video of Freeman on a plane to Houston.

She knew that didn't sit well.

"I said, 'Watch and see. As soon as somebody sees me on this plane, they're going to turn on me.' Everybody loved me before I got on that plane, but when I got on that plane, everybody hated me," she said.

Now, Freeman is in Houston trying to find a way to get fans here. She said she has two buses and is trying to find hotels.

WSB-TV asked her what has she learned.

"Check the facts. You got to check everybody because everybody is not an honest person," she said.

Freeman said she doesn't have a hotel to stay in because the one promised to her was never booked.

U.S. wrestlers banned from competition in Iran

Iran on Friday banned U.S. wrestlers from participating in the Freestyle World Cup competition this month in response to President Donald Trump's executive order forbidding visas for Iranians, the IRNA news agency reported.

>> Read more trending news

Iran foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told IRNA that a special committee reviewed the case and "eventually the visit by the U.S. freestyle wrestling team was opposed."

The decision is the first action taken by Iran in response to Trump's executive order banning visas for seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, The Associated Press reported. Iran said earlier this week that it would take retaliatory action.

The competition in Kermanshah is Feb. 16-17.

U.S. freestyle wrestlers have competed in Iran since 1998 after an absence of nearly 20 years. Since then, Americans have attended wrestling competitions hosted by Iran 15 times. Iranians have made 16 visits to the U.S. as guests of USA Wrestling since the 1990s.

Super Bowl 2017: Bargains on TV sets from Walmart, Best Buy, Target and hhgregg

An estimated 188 million will watch the New England Patriots take on the Atlanta Falcons Sunday in Super Bowl LI.

Each year the game is consistently the most watched broadcast on television, and this year, as many as 15 million of us are in the market for a new TV set to watch it on, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.

>>For complete coverage of Super Bowl LI, click here 

According to the NRF, more than 43 percent of viewers say they are watching the game for the game, 24 percent say it’s the commercials that get them to watch, 15 percent just like hanging out with their friends for a fun afternoon, and 12 percent are watching for the halftime show. This year, Lady GaGa is performing at halftime.

It’s a good time to be in the market for a new set – the options on today’s flat screen TVs seem endless.

Here are a few deals from Walmart, Best Buy, Target and hhgregg  to consider if you want a new set before Sunday’s game.

 Walmart

Best Buy

Target

 hhgregg

Law enforcement: Beware of fake Super Bowl tickets

Every year, devoted fans desperate for a seat at the Super Bowl shell out big bucks for what turn out to be counterfeit tickets. Even if the tickets fans buy off-market are authentic, there’s a chance they could have been reported stolen or lost by the original buyers, rendering them useless.

>> Read more trending stories  

Even more people buy what they think are genuine NFL hats or jerseys but have really been swindled into purchasing fake stuff.

On Thursday morning, representatives from the NFL, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Houston Police Department, Harris County District Attorney’s Office and the Harris County Constable’s Office teamed up for a news conference warning consumers and would-be counterfeiters that a formidable force is on guard.

>>For complete coverage of Super Bowl LI, click here   

“Operation Team Player,” as the joint endeavor is called, has already resulted in the seizure of 260,000 sports-related items, worth an estimated $20 million, and there have been 56 arrests and 50 convictions, according to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement tip sheet released during the conference.

The NFL, as it does each year, has obtained a court order allowing the immediate seizure of fake tickets or merchandise, said NFL Vice President of Legal Affairs Dolores DiBella.

Mike Buchwald, senior counsel at National Football League, displayed several authentic Super Bowl tickets and detailed the many intricate features embedded to thwart counterfeiters – raised surfaces, hologram images and such. Criminals selling fakes are ever more sophisticated in creating copies, he said, and every year customers get hoodwinked.

“Every year, we see fans who arrive at the stadium on game day only to be turned away,” he said. “No matter how real the ticket may look, a fake ticket will not get you into the game.”

Photos: Celebs who support Falcons, Patriots

Super Bowl security: From protests to prostitution, authorities are ready

Fans headed to the Super Bowl should expect to see strict security measures and a flood of law enforcement personnel, but the measures they don’t see are just as important.

>> Read more trending stories 

“We hope you don’t see us this week,” Perrye K. Turner, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Houston division, said during a joint news conference with local and federal officials. “But have no doubt we are there. Protecting our city is a partnership.”

More than 40 agencies are coordinating on security, and officials from various agencies repeated that there’s “no known credible threat” looming as the game nears.

“All eyes around the world will be on this event, so we’ve got to make sure we’re prepared,” said Chip Fulghum, the Department of Homeland Security’s acting undersecretary for management. “We’re prepared. As Vince Lombardi said, if we work together, we will win, and that’s what we’re doing.”

>> For complete coverage of Super Bowl LI, click here   

Fans won’t be able to tailgate outside the stadium before the Super Bowl and should expect security measures that are probably familiar to those who attend NFL games. No book bags, briefcases, coolers or large purses will be allowed. Women can bring in small clutch bags about the size of a hand. Prepare to go through a metal detector and a security pat-down.

“Security is always our top priority. We look to balance that with minimal inconvenience to fans,” Fulghum said. “We have visible security and behind-the-scenes security as well.”

The Houston Police Department serves as the lead agency in coordinating security efforts. Chief Art Acevedo said he gives security preparation an A-minus, only because there’s always room for improvement. There have already have been some Super Bowl-related arrests: some petty theft cases, pickpocket, a case of public intoxication and a man who tried to get in without proper ticketing, which turned out to be a mental health issue.

“We’ve made six trademark counterfeiting arrests ... that led to the seizure of 10,000 items with a retail value of $500,00,” he said. “We’re not going to let people steal intellectual properties.”

His department is focused on the issue of human trafficking. Arrests made for solicitation have already freed three women who said they were forced into prostitution, he said.

The police department, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and federal authorities also are mindful of the large protests that have sprung up around the country in opposition to President Donald Trump’s recent executive order on immigration and refugee resettlement. With all eyes on Houston on Sunday, it’s a good bet that demonstrators might seek to capitalize on the prominent event to elevate their message.

Acevedo said his department has a good relationship with local activists and is used to handling large protest uprisings. He warned people bent on destruction who might seek to infiltrate community protests that they will be outnumbered by activists, who don’t want their message hijacked by a few rogue elements with mayhem in mind.

Former Washington, D.C., Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, who is now head of security for the National Football League, reminded fans to be vigilant, report anything suspicious and not to trust ticket scalpers.

“Buyer beware,” she said. “If you’re buying from a third party, you don’t know what you’re getting. Every year we have some very heartbroken fans.”

How much do Americans eat on Super Bowl Sunday?

Falcons and Patriots fans around the country are hoping their team will devour the other on Sunday, and at the same time, they'll be devouring a lot of food as they cheer them on.

>> Read more trending stories  

Beer will flow and chicken wings and pizza slices will be consumed in large amounts in the city and around the country, as fans hope for their team's championship win. You could say eating a lot of food is something of a sacred ritual during the big game.

>>For complete coverage of Super Bowl LI, click here   

Americans eat tons of food during the big game. In a 2015 study, researchers from Cornell University found that Americans purchased the highest calorie food the week before the Super Bowl, at a whopping 6,000 calories per serving.

Americans will eat more than 1.3 billion chicken wings at Super Bowl LI

A projected 1.33 billion chickens wings will be consumed on game day, according to data from the National Chicken Council. That's an average of four wings per American. That amount of chicken also weighs about 338 times more than the combined weight of all 32 NFL teams.

Nearly 30 million slices of pizza from Pizza Hut and Domino's alone

Americans will eat more than 28 million pizza slices from just two of the country's biggest pizza chains, according to data from the National Restaurant Association. Add in all the local mom and pop joints as well as other national chains ... and you can try and do the math.

More than 325 million gallons of beer

That's more than a gallon of beer for every single American citizen, according to a 2014 study from the Stevens Institute of Technology. 

9,200 tons of chips 

The Snack Food Association has estimated that Americans eat some 11.2 million pounds of potato chips and 8.2 million pounds of tortilla chips, totaling nearly 20 million pounds. That's about the same weight as 3,400 large SUVs or trucks.

3 million pounds of nuts

That's 1,500 tons or enough to make around a million 12-ounce jars of peanut butter.

So, as you're consuming your calories during the big game, be conscious, but also know that you're definitely not the only one.

7 things to know now: Trump on immigration; Mary Tyler Moore; Bolt loses medal; Doomsday Clock

Here's a roundup of news trending across the nation and world today.

What to know now:

1. Trump on immigration: Saying the country does not need new laws, but needs to “work within the existing system and framework,” President Donald Trump signed an order Wednesday to tighten border security and another to begin building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Also on Wednesday, Trump ordered cuts in federal grants to so-called “sanctuary cities,” and provided for additional border patrol agents and immigration officers.

2. Bolt to forfeit medal: Sprinter Usain Bolt will have to forfeit an Olympic gold medal after a teammate in the 4x100 relay race was caught doping. Nesta Carter was disqualified from the 2008 Beijing Olympic games after a retesting of a sample provided after the race showed the banned substance methylhexaneamine. The International Olympic Committee has retested samples stored from the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games looking for banned substances that were not originally found.

3. What time is it: The Doomsday Clock, which symbolizes the end of humankind, could be adjusted today as the scientists who decide how close we are to ending our existence hold a live stream event at 10 a.m. ET. The clock was first introduced in 1947 by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Currently, it is set at 3 minutes to midnight and has been for the past two years.

4. Musk's tunnel: Elon Musk says he “plans to start digging in a month or so” on a project to tunnel under Los Angeles. The cryptic tweet from Musk came a few weeks after he complained that “traffic is driving me nuts.” There were no more details on what type of vehicle the tunnel would service. Musk created his own electric Tesla automobile, and has talked of  a "hyperloop" tube transportation device.

5. All-American Australian: Sisters Venus and Serena Williams will meet in the finals of The Australian Open tennis tournament Saturday as they both took care of their opponents in semi-final rounds Thursday. Venus beat American CoCo Vandeweghe 6-7, 6-2, 6-3, while Serena took out Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in only 50 minutes, winning 6-2, 6-1.

And one more

Actress Mary Tyler Moore, whose self-titled show gave single, career-minded women in the 1970s a role model to look to on the small screen, died Wednesday. Moore, who came to fame as Laura Petrie, the TV wife of Dick Van Dyke’s Rob Petrie on the “Dick Van Dyke Show,” was 80 years old. During her career, she won seven Emmys and was nominated for an Oscar. "She was an impressive person and a talented person and a beautiful person. A force of nature," said producer, creator and director Carl Reiner, who created the "The Dick Van Dyke Show," told The Associated Press. "She'll last forever, as long as there's television. Year after year, we'll see her face in front of us."

In case you missed it

Some of the funniest 4 minutes ever on television.

‘La La Land’ ties record number of Oscar nods with 14

The romantic musical comedy “La La Land” has danced its way into film history, earning 14 Academy Award nominations Tuesday, tying the movies “All About Eve” and “Titanic” for the most nominations ever.

>> Read more trending stories  

The fantasy film was nominated for Best Picture and “La La Land’s” writer and director Damien Chazelle was nominated for an Oscar for Best Director and Best Original Screen Play.

Stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling were both named in the Best Actress and Best Actor categories.

The movie also earned nominations for cinematography, costume design, sound editing, original score, sound mixing, film editing, production design and for two original songs: “City of Stars” and “Audition (The Fools Who Dream).”

“La La Land” needs to win at least 12 Oscars at the awards next month, to beat the record for most Academy Awards. Three films have won 11 awards each: “Ben Hur,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” and “Titantic.”

The film cleaned up at the Golden Globes earlier this month, winning seven Globes, more awards than any other film ever.  The previous record was five.

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