Luke Bryan Recalls 'Mental Torture' of Performing the National Anthem at 2017 Super Bowl

It's one of the most prestigious invitations of an artist's career, but for Luke Bryan, it was also the most terrifying. When Bryan was invited to perform the National Anthem ahead of the Super Bowl in 2017, the singer admits it was terrifying, and something he likely wouldn't sign up to do again.

“When I got the call, you’re like, ‘Do you really want to put yourself through this mental torture?’" Bryan recalled on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. "You either get the anthem right or you don’t first of all.”

Not only was Bryan terrified to sing in front of so many people, but having his friends either want to party with him or bet on his performance made the entire experience even more daunting.

“I’m like, 'Guys, I'm performing to 125 million people on Sunday. I can’t go do Jagerbombs all night,'" Bryan recalled. “They're like, 'Oh man, you've changed ... So literally I get there on Wednesday, because you have to go out, and you have to run it every day. I did it where I actually went out there and performed it without pre-taping it. First of all, it’s about two minutes and 11 seconds until the end. I had several buddies fly to Vegas."

The so-called "friends" were betting on all aspects of Bryan's performance, including what he would wear and how long he would sing.

"They were in Vegas trying to bet on the time of the anthem," Bryan recounted. "I had country music buddies calling me. 'Hey man, are you gonna wear a hat or not? Is it 2:11?' I'm like, 'I don't know! Leave me alone. And then you've got this guy with a headset. He's like, 'The bombers have to fly over the stadium at 2:10. Are you going to be 2:12? 2:13? I'm like, 'Guys, I don't know! I'm walking my a–– out there."


Bryan, who is used to performing in front of large crowds on his sold-out tours, vows he will "never do that" to himself again. The "What She Wants Tonight" singer just wrapped up his Sunset Repeat Tour. Although tour plans for 2020 have yet to be announced, Bryan will be returning, along with Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Bobby Bones, for American Idol. A premiere date has yet to be revealed, although likely in the spring.

Photo Credit: Getty / CBS Photo Archive