The 2019 Super Bowl is right around the corner, but for many fans, tuning in has more to with the halftime show than the actual game. The show has been a coveted and honored gig for musical acts, but because of the NFL’s recent controversy and various other reasons, some notable artists have refused to perform. There are at least three celebs who reportedly turned down the 2019 Super Bowl halftime performance.
Super Bowl event coordinators spent most of 2018 struggling to find a headliner for the 2019 halftime show. The reason many artists are avoiding the event centers around Colin Kaepernick, and the quiet protest he started during the San Francisco 49ers third preseason game of the 2016. Kaepernick — who was a quarterback for the 49ers at the time — chose to kneel during the National Anthem rather than stand.
He told NFL Media that he refused to stand because he didn't want to “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Other players around the country joined Kaepernick’s protest, which led to an outpouring of both criticism and support. Kaepernick was not rehired by the NFL when his contract ended in 2017, and he has since filed a lawsuit against the organization.
Many celebrities have been critical of the way the NFL handled the situation, and for some, the controversy reportedly played a part in their refusal to perform. In October 2018, it was announced that Maroon 5, Big Boi, and Travis Scott would be headlining the 2019 Super Bowl, but here are the three artists that reportedly turned down the gig.
According to the Rolling Stone, Rihanna was asked to perform during the 2019 halftime show, but her support for Kaepernick and her criticism of the NFL’s controversial anthem policy led to her refusal. A source close to the singer told Us Weekly that while “The NFL and CBS really wanted Rihanna” to perform in Atlanta, she “said no because of the kneeling controversy” and because “she doesn’t agree with the NFL’s stance.”
Pink — who performed the National Anthem during the 2018 Super Bowl — was also approached by the NFL. According to Entertainment Tonight, the singer refused the offer because negotiations went on too long and Kaepernick wasn't mentioned in the discussions at all.
Cardi B — who is featured on Maroon 5’s hit “Girls Like You” — was in talks about performing with the band during the halftime show. But a rep for the rapper told Page Six that she was not on board because of her support for Kaepernick. "There [were] talks about it, but she was not particularly interested in participating because of how she feels about Colin Kaepernick and the whole movement,” the rep said. “But again, there was never a solid offer for her to say yes or no to regarding the Super Bowl.”
Now that the big game is just days away, the confirmed acts — Maroon 5, Big Boi and Travis Scott — are getting ready to take the stage. It will be interesting to see if any of these performers use their time to make a statement and address the controversy, or if they just stick to entertaining the crowd.
Super Bowl LIII airs Sunday, Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS.