In 2019, pop star Rihanna declined the opportunity to headline the Super Bowl halftime show in support of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was removed from the league for kneeling in protest of systemic racism and police brutality. She stated that she could not be a sellout or an enabler. Fast forward to 2023, and the beauty billionaire is now set to take the stage as the Apple Music halftime act for Super Bowl LVII, which is expected to be viewed by an estimated 190 million people. When asked why she decided to perform, Rihanna stated in an interview that she felt it was now or never and that performing at the Super Bowl is an entertainer’s dream as it is one of the largest stages in the world.
Rihanna’s performance marks her return to music after a six-year hiatus. In October of the previous year, she released her first single since 2017, “Lift Me Up” from the movie “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” The song earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. During her time away from music, Rihanna focused on building her beauty empire, Fenty Beauty, which she launched with luxury goods giant LVMH six years prior. Today, Fenty Beauty is one of the most successful and inclusive cosmetics brands in the industry, estimated to be worth $2.8 billion. In 2018, she also launched the lingerie brand Savage X Fenty, which was considering a $3 billion IPO following a $125 million funding round the previous year. These two businesses make up the majority of Rihanna’s estimated $1.4 billion fortune.
Rihanna will not be paid for her Super Bowl performance, as is the custom for halftime headliners. However, exposure to such a massive audience can offer tremendous benefits for an entertainer’s career. When Lady Gaga performed in 2017, her album and song sales increased by 1000%, according to Billboard. Jennifer Lopez gained 2.3 million new followers on social media after she and Shakira headlined in 2020. The previous year’s performance, featuring West Coast hip-hop legends such as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, and 50 Cent, saw a boost to their personal catalogs. Dr. Dre saw a 183% increase in album sales and a 105% bump in on-demand streams the week after the Super Bowl, according to Luminate. Mary J. Blige’s album sales increased by 999% during that time, and Snoop Dogg’s rose 361%, as reported by Luminate. The halftime show was also a critical success, receiving five Emmy nominations and winning three, including the award for Best Live Variety Special, a first for a Super Bowl halftime show.
Rihanna, who has nearly 250 million followers on Twitter and Instagram, will use the Super Bowl performance as an opportunity to return to her music roots and reconnect with her audience. The performance will also be another collaboration with Jay-Z, whose Roc Nation entered into a long-term partnership with the NFL as its Live Music Entertainment Strategist in 2019. The halftime show production can cost over $10 million dollars, but the NFL and Apple Music are expected to foot the bill, according to an NFL spokesperson confirmed to Forbes. It is unclear whether Rihanna is putting any of her own money into the performance, as her representative declined to confirm and Roc Nation and Apple Music did not respond to Forbes’ requests for comment.
Rihanna stated at a press conference ahead of the game that she is involved in every aspect of anything she does, whether it is the Super Bowl, a makeup product, or her lingerie line.