Yesterday, Rihanna announced that she is performing for the 2023 Super Bowl’s Halftime Show, with none other than a cryptic Instagram post of her hand holding a football. The news was eventually confirmed by the NFL, both on social media and in statements.
“We are thrilled to welcome Rihanna to the Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show stage,” NFL Head of Music Seth Dudowsky said in a statement. “Rihanna is a once-in-a-generation artist who has been a cultural force throughout her career. We look forward to collaborating with Rihanna, Roc Nation, and Apple Music to bring fans another historic Halftime Show performance.”
However, Rihanna actually had an opportunity to play the halftime show years earlier — and turned it down. She was originally considered to play in February 2019, instead of Maroon 5. She declined the deal to stand in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, who protested racial injustice as a 49ers player in 2016. (According to The Guardian, he settled a case with the NFL after claiming he was “blackballed” following his kneeling peaceful protest. He left the team in 2017.)
“Absolutely,” she told Vogue in an interview from October 2019, after being asked if that’s why she declined. “I couldn’t dare do that. For what? Who gains from that? Not my people. 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.”
A few years later, Rihanna finally accepted the offer. She also returned to Vogue in April for a cover story, ahead of the birth of her first child. The interview seems to hint at why she accepted the halftime show — and might even say yes to putting new music out. “I think I even say yes to more now,” Rihanna said, “because I know it will be different on the other side of this. At first, I expected some magical change, but really I remain who I am.”
Super Bowl LVII will take place on 2/12/2023 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.