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Inside a Wilson Football Factory: How a NFL football is made

When Jane Helser started sewing around 150 handmade footballs per day at the Wilson Sporting Goods factory in Ada, Ohio, it was 1966. She was 19 years old.

For the next 48 years, as presidents, football players and moon missions came and went, Helser worked four 10-hour shifts every week, stitching leather panels together, four at time, to form the bodies of footballs that would be used in games that she rarely watched.

…but she’s been to nine Super Bowl games. “When I’m at a Super Bowl and I walk into the stadium at kickoff time, and I see that football sitting down there on that field, I get goosebumps because I sewed that football.”

Now retired, Helser explains how American footballs are handmade at the Wilson Football Factory in this video from The New York Times.

Related videos: More balls, more sports, more factories, and more about how things are made.

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