Jay-Z on Super Bowl halftime show rejection: 'I didn't like the process'

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Music mogul Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter’s famous decision to turn down an offer to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show may have had less to do with former quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s dispute with the NFL than previously thought, according to a report on Wednesday.

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Carter and his entertainment firm, Roc Nation, are set to produce the NFL’s live entertainment offerings, including the Super Bowl halftime show, as part of a broad partnership announced on Wednesday. In that role, Carter will help to decide which performers star in the halftime show – widely considered the biggest concert of the year – and may even appear himself.

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Speaking at a press conference regarding the partnership, Carter implied that his dissatisfaction with the NFL’s past selection process for the Super Bowl halftime show was a key factor in his decision to back out of the running, the New York Daily News reported.

“I didn’t like the process. I think the process of selection was fractured,” Carter said, according to the newspaper. “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.”

The NFL had purportedly struggled to fill the halftime show’s headline role in recent years. Many celebrities, including Carter and Rihanna, criticized the league for its handling of national anthem protests led by Kaepernick.

Carter famously addressed the Super Bowl saga in a 2018 song, rapping “I said no to the Super Bowl, you need me, I don’t need you.”

Aside from the music partnership, Carter will work with the NFL on its social justice initiatives. The NFL has earmarked at least $89 million in funding toward social justice causes.

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"For me it's like action, [an] actionable item, what are we gonna do with it? Everyone heard, we hear what you're saying, and everybody knows I agree with what you're saying [in Kaepernick's underlying message]. So what are we gonna do? You know what I'm saying? [Help] millions and millions of people, or we get stuck on Colin not having a job,” Carter said.

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