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Super Bowl 2020 was notable for many reasons. Jennifer Lopez and Shakira put on a stunning halftime show, the Kansas City Chiefs pulled off an incredible, second-half win, and the commercials were top of the line.

However, possibly the most buzzworthy moment of the big game happened early on – when fans realized that Beyoncé and Jay-Z sat during the National Anthem. In the days since, it has been discussed by everyone from fans to political commentators, until finally, the couple themselves spoke out about it.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z remained seated during the National Anthem

The National Anthem is always an important moment in every Super Bowl. The artist chosen to sing is always someone who has earned critical acclaim, and this year, Demi Lovato was the featured performer. As Lovato took her place to sing the beloved song, the camera panned over the audience, clocking everyone’s reactions to her powerhouse vocals.

While it is a tradition for everyone in the stands and in attendance at the big game to stand up during the performance of the National Anthem, fans quickly noticed that Beyoncé and Jay-Z, ensconced high in the stadium seats, were seated. Almost instantly, fans took to social media to discuss it, debating whether or not the couple was trying to make a political statement. 

Everyone was talking about Beyoncé and Jay-Z

Beyoncé Instagram
Beyoncé | Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Disney

Many were upset by the fact that Beyoncé and Jay-Z, along with their eight-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy, remained seated during the National Anthem. Others applauded them, pointing to the idea that they might be making a strong political statement in line with Colin Kaepernick, who notably began the movement of protest within the NFL’s ranks.

Still, Jay-Z’s association with the NFL makes any potential political statement a little bit trickier. After all, Jay-Z signed a deal with the NFL in late 2019 as a live music entertainment strategist. The rapper’s intent was to focus on inclusivity within the NFL.

As he stated at the time: “The NFL has a great big platform, and it has to be all-inclusive. They were willing to do some things, to make some changes, that we can do some good.”

Jay-Z explained why he and Beyoncé sat during the national anthem

While there have been a few celebrities who have been outspoken in their dislike of the NFL and their support of Colin Kaepernick, including Rihanna, Jay-Z and Beyoncé do not seem to fall within that category. Not long after their controversy started making headlines, Jay-Z clarified what happened at the Super Bowl.

During a presentation at Columbia University, Jay-Z explained that due to his deal with the NFL, he was actually “working” while he was attending the event and that he and Beyoncé sitting during the performance of the National Anthem wasn’t “premeditated.” In fact, he went on to describe how he and his wife went into “artist mode” during the pre-show performances, discussing the singers, the sets, the sound design, and other details.

In being so wrapped up in taking it all in, Jay-Z said that they simply didn’t realize it was time to stand for the National Anthem. After Lovato’s performance, Jay-Z received a call from a friend, pointing out that they didn’t stand and possibly giving him a heads-up that they should prepare for some controversy.

As further proof that Jay-Z and Beyoncé didn’t mean to spark a protest during the Super Bowl, the rapper stated: “We wouldn’t do that to Blue and put her in that position.”

Needless to say, at Super Bowl 2021, the superstar couple might be a bit more aware that all eyes are on them.