The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Rihanna to headline Super Bowl LVII halftime show

Rihanna will headline the Super Bowl LVII halftime show in February. (Francois Mori/Associated Press)

Rihanna, who said in 2019 that she turned down the chance to perform in the Super Bowl halftime show because of how Colin Kaepernick had been treated, will headline the Super Bowl LVII halftime show in February, the NFL announced Sunday.

After rumors that talks to sign the singer were progressing, Rihanna made the announcement on Instagram with a simple image of her hand holding an NFL football against a stark white background. Shortly afterward, the NFL made it official in an announcement along with Apple Music and Roc Nation, the entertainment company founded by Jay-Z.

The Super Bowl will be held Feb. 12, 2023, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

Rihanna confirmed to Vogue in 2019 that she had turned down the chance to appear on the global stage offered by the game.

“Absolutely,” she said. “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.”

Cardi B also turned down the offer. Maroon 5 instead headlined the show, to meh reviews.

Rihanna was also critical of President Donald Trump, who ripped the league for not disciplining players, such as Kaepernick, who took a knee during the national anthem to protest social injustice and police brutality. Since then, spurred largely by the murder of George Floyd, among other incidents, the NFL has evolved, with Commissioner Roger Goodell saying in 2020 “I wish we had listened earlier” to the gesture by Kaepernick and others.

Jay-Z praised Rihanna in the NFL’s announcement as “a generational talent, a woman of humble beginnings who has surpassed expectations at every turn. A person born on the small island of Barbados who became one of the most prominent artists ever. Self-made in business and entertainment.”

Roc Nation, which entered into a long-term relationship with the NFL in 2019 to advise it on shows, will be the strategic entertainment adviser for her performance. Although she has not released an album since 2016, she has intimated new work is coming.

“We are thrilled to welcome Rihanna to the Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show stage,” Seth Dudowsky, the NFL’s head of music, said in the announcement. “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.”

Apple’s Oliver Schusser echoed that. “Rihanna is an incredible recording artist who is a favorite for many millions of Apple Music customers around the world. We’re excited to partner with Rihanna, Roc Nation and the NFL to bring music and sports fans a momentous show — what an incredible artist for the inaugural Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show.”