Jay-Z has denied he and wife Beyonce were staging a protest when they stayed seated during the national anthem at the Super Bowl.
Pictures emerged of the celebrity power couple and their eight-year-old daughter Blue Ivy remaining in their seats as Demi Lovato performed The Star Spangled Banner before the NFL’s showpiece event on Sunday.
It led to speculation they were trying to send a message. Former NFL player Colin Kaepernick famously kneeled during the national anthem in protest against racial inequality in the US.
He has been without a team since 2017. Jay-Z appeared at Columbia University on Tuesday and in footage of the event obtained by showbiz website TMZ explained why he and Beyonce stayed seated.
“It actually wasn’t. Sorry,” the rapper said when asked if it was an attempt to send a message. “It really wasn’t.”
The 50-year-old, who produced all the musical performances at Sunday’s Super Bowl in his deal with the NFL as the “live music entertainment strategist,” said he and Beyonce jumped straight into “artist mode” when the singing started.
Gospel singer Yolanda Adams performed America The Beautiful before Lovato delivered a well-received rendition of The Star Spangled Banner.
Jay-Z said as the show kicked off he was preoccupied with whether the sound levels were too low and what the TV cameras were picking up and beaming to millions of homes across America.
He 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.”
The music mogul said him and Beyonce staying seated “just happened” and they did not need to make a “silent protest” as the diverse group of performers was “the biggest, loudest protest of all”.
As well as Adams and Lovato appearing before the game between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez performed the prestigious half-time show.