Super Bowl Halftime Show: Why Rihanna Once Refused to Do Annual Show

The NFL, Jay-Z, and Apple Music confirmed Sunday that Rihanna will perform at the Super Bowl LVII halftime show in February. The "Umbrella" singer's decision comes about four years after she turned down an offer to perform to show support for Colin Kaepernick. Rihanna was offered the 2019 Super Bowl Halftime show, a gig that eventually went to Maroon 5, Big Boi, and Travis Scott.

In an October 2019 interview with Vogue, Rihanna confirmed rumors from earlier that year that she rejected the NFL's offer. "I couldn't dare do that. For what? Who gains from that? Not my people," she said. "I just couldn't be a sellout. I couldn't be an enabler. There's things within that organization that I do not agree with at all, and I was not about to go and be of service to them in any way."

Kaepernick, 34, still has not played in the NFL since 2016. During that season, he began kneeling during the "Star-Spangled Banner" each game to protest police brutality, racial injustice, and oppression. Kaepernick was never signed by another team and he filed a grievance against the NFL in 2017. He eventually withdrew the grievance after he reached a confidential settlement with the league. Although he hasn't played in six years, he remains an active civil rights activist. Last year, he teamed up with Netflix and filmmaker Ava DuVernay for Colin in Black & White, a limited series about his teenage years.

The Super Bowl halftime show will be produced by JDPS with Jay-Z's Roc Nation and Jesse Collins as executive producers. When Jay-Z agreed to work with the NFL in 2019, there was plenty of criticism, but he brushed that off quickly. During a Q&A with the media, he said he was "not interested" in how the partnership looked to outside observers.

"I've been in this position many times. I just show up and do the work, I'm not interested in how things look on the outside," he said. "If protesting on the field is the most effective way, then protest on the field. But, if you have a vehicle that you can inspire change and you can speak to the masses and educate at the same time."

When the NFL and Jay-Z named Rihanna the Super Bowl LVII halftime performer, the singer did not provide a comment herself. She only posted a photo of herself holding a football on her social media pages. This will be her first public performance since the 2018 Grammy Awards and it also comes six years after her latest album, ANTI, was released.

"Rihanna is a generational talent, a woman of humble beginnings who has surpassed expectations at every turn," Jay-Z said in a statement Sunday. "A person born on the small island of Barbados who became one of the most prominent artists ever. Self-made in business and entertainment."


Super Bowl LVII will be played at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on Feb. 12, 2023. Fox is broadcasting the game this time. The halftime show will be the first one since 2012 to have a sponsor other than Pepsi. Apple Music won the naming rights last week.