Rihanna is about to perform at the Super Bowl LVII on Sunday (Feb. 12), marking the superstar’s first return to a musical stage in five years.
The halftime show is a familiar setting for some of the music world’s richest stars, including the likes of Sean P. Diddy Combs and Paul McCartney, but Rihanna is in a tier of her own. Currently worth an estimated $1.4 billion, Rihanna stands as the wealthiest musician in the world, with Jay-Z close behind.
The NFL famously doesn’t pay halftime show performers an appearance fee, but the event virtually guarantees a significant bump in sales and streams. The Barbados-born star is one of the most successful artists of her generation–14 consecutive number-one hits on the Billboard charts and more than 60 million albums sold. Yet most of Rihanna’s wealth stems from her business ventures in the fashion and cosmetics world: the Fenty Beauty brand, half of which is owned by luxury French group LVMH, and the Savage x Fenty lingerie company.
Last spring Savage x Fenty reportedly considered going public through an IPO valued at $3 billion. The move would have added approximately another billion to Rihanna’s net worth.
The 2022 Super Bowl halftime show, by the numbers
103.4 million: Viewers who tuned into the 2022 halftime show–up 7% from the previous year–making it the most-watched television event in the US last year.
$0: Halftime performers don’t get paid an appearance fee, although the NFL covers travel expenses and all production costs.
185%: Boost Dr. Dre’s Spotify numbers received after his halftime performance in 2022.
$250 million: Value of the record-setting deal Apple Music signed with the NFL in 2022 to be the Super Bowl’s halftime show’s main sponsor.
Rihanna has turned down the Super Bowl before
Ahead of the 2019 Super Bowl, Rihanna turned down the halftime show in a show of solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback who claimed he was blackballed by NFL owners after kneeling during the national anthem during the 2016 season to protest police brutality and racial inequality.
In an interview with Vogue later that year, Rihanna confirmed that she had been offered the gig and sharply criticized the NFL. “I couldn’t dare [perform]. For what? Who gains from that? Not my people. I just couldn’t be a sellout. I couldn’t be an enabler,” she said. “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.”
While Rihanna has not publicly commented on the about-face, it likely has something to do with the NFL signing a multi-year deal with Jay-Z and his Roc Nation agency in August 2019 to produce the halftime show. Rihanna is signed to Roc Nation, which has made a concerted effort to highlight more Black performers in the show, as demonstrated by last year’s ode to west coast hip-hop.
In the years since his acrimonious exit from the league, Kaepernick has become a vocal critic of police brutality and institutionalized racism. The NFL settled a lawsuit over the allegations he was kept out of the league for approximately $10 million.
Super Bowl 2023 players and storylines
🚩 The game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs is all about defense vs. offense. The Chiefs had the league’s most explosive offense this year, number one in both points scored and yards gained. Meanwhile, the Eagles remained a stalwart and reliable defensive force, posting the league’s second-highest defensive rating and setting a historic pace for total sacks.
🏈 It’s the first Super Bowl to feature two Black quarterbacks. Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes–two of the NFL’s brightest young stars–both spoke about what the historic moment means to them.
👬 It is also the first Super Bowl to feature two brothers going head to head. Jason and Travis Kelce will face off against each other on the offensive line, while their mom has stitched together their jerseys to create a single neutral outfit.
👨 Andy Reid, the mega-popular coach for Kansas City and likely future member of the NFL Hall of Fame, has a chance to win his second championship against his former team. Reid coached the Eagles for 14 seasons (1999-2012), leading them to six NFL East titles and one Super Bowl appearance, but never a championship win.
🏈 How the Super Bowl became an unrivaled US cultural phenomenon
🍺 Bowl LVII ad watch: less crypto, more beer