Jay-Z has said he and his wife Beyonce were not staging a protest when they remained seated during the national anthem at the Super Bowl – insisting they were just in “artist mode”.
Pictures emerged of the celebrity couple and their eight-year-old daughter Blue Ivy in their seats as Demi Lovato performed The Star-Spangled Banner before the NFL’s showpiece event on Sunday – sparking reports they were trying to send a message.
In 2016, former San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick famously knelt during the national anthem in protest against racial inequality in the US.
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Jay-Z has denied staging a protest of any kind before the game between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs in Miami.
When asked if it was attempt to send a message, he told TMZ: “It actually wasn’t. Sorry. It really wasn’t.”
The 50-year-old, who produced all the musical performances at Sunday’s Super Bowl in his deal with NFL as a “live entertainment strategist”, explained he and wife Beyonce jumped straight into “artist mode” when the singing started.
He said he was preoccupied with whether the sound levels were too low and what the TV cameras were picking up.
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The music mogul added: “And then right after that, Demi comes out, and we’re talking about how beautiful she looks and how she sounds, and what she’s gone through in her life for her to be on the stage and we’re so proud of her.”
He said staying seated “just happened” and the couple had no intention of making a “silent protest”, since the diverse group of performers was “the biggest, loudest protest of all”.
Other performers at the world famous sporting event included gospel singer Yolanda Adams, who performed America The Beautiful before Lovato, while Shakira and Jennifer Lopez headlined the prestigious half-time show.
It was the first time the much-discussed interlude has been headlined by Latina women for decades – after Gloria Estefan sang at the showpiece event in 1992 and 1999.
The game saw the Chiefs overcome a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter of the game to beat the fancied San Francisco 49ers 31-20.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes, at 23 the youngest to be named Super Bowl most valuable player, led the underdogs to an unexpected victory – 50 years since they were last NFL champions.