Jay-Z Reveals the 1 Reason He Turned Down the Super Bowl Halftime Show (And It’s Not Because of the Protests)

Jay-Z has performed thousands of shows in multiple countries across all continents. But believe it or not, he’s never performed at a Super Bowl halftime show. Although he was once given the opportunity, Jay-Z refused to do the show and let it go to someone else. He opened up about the experience in a new interview and shared the bold reason he passed on the gig.

Jay-Z on stage in 2017
Jay-Z on stage in 2017 | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Jay-Z’s comments on his potential Super Bowl halftime gig

Jay-Z opened up to The New York Times in an interview published on Feb. 1. According to him, the NFL approached him years ago about performing at a halftime show but under one condition: He would have to perform his 2009 hit “Run This Town” with Kanye West and Rihanna.

Jay-Z said that while he had no problem performing with the duo, he didn’t like how the NFL went about the request.

“Of course I would have,” the 4:44 artist explained. “But I said, ‘No, you get me.’ That is not how you go about it, telling someone that they’re going to do the halftime show contingent on who they bring. I said forget it. It was a principle thing.”

Jay-Z and his eldest daughter Blue Ivy Carter at Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2, 2020
Jay-Z and his eldest daughter Blue Ivy Carter at Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2, 2020 | Jose Carlos Fajardo/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

Jay-Z previously spoke about his decision to turn down the show

Jay-Z also said in August 2019 that he had issues with the selection process.

“I didn’t like the process. I think the process of selection was fractured,” he explained at a press conference (via The New York Daily News). “Take four of us [performers] and everybody thinks they’re playing the Super Bowl. It’s almost like this interview process. So if I could pick one, three other people are upset. That’s not even good math. After three years, nine people are upset and three people are going to play. I just think the process could’ve been more definite.”

In recent years, the NFL has struggled to find headliners for its Super Bowl halftime shows. Artists such as Pink and Rihanna turned them down in solidarity with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick — who claims he was blackballed after his 2016 protests of racial injustice and police brutality.

Jay-Z went on to work with the NFL

Jay-Z now works with the NFL as its “live music entertainment strategist.” Through his role, he helps the organization find talent for performances such as the Super Bowl. He also assists with its social justice initiatives.

Jay-Z at brunch in January 2020
Jay-Z at brunch in January 2020 | Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation

After landing the deal in August 2019, fans accused Jay-Z of betraying Kaepernick and disregarding the fact that he remains unsigned. Jay-Z acknowledged this in the interview with the Times, saying that Kaepernick has been “done wrong” but that it’s time to move the conversation forward.

“No one is saying he hasn’t been done wrong,” Jay-Z said. “He was done wrong. I would understand if it was three months ago. But it was three years ago and someone needs to say, ‘What do we do now — because people are still dying?’”

Jay-Z added that he is hoping he can use the NFL’s platform to educate white fans about police brutality.

“As long as real people are being hurt and marginalized and losing family members, then yes, I can take a couple rounds of negative press,” he continued.

Jay-Z and the NFL seemingly have a lot in store for fans. Stay tuned.