Adam Levine leads Maroon 5 in concert, November 2018. Maroon 5 will certainly headline the 2019 Super key halftime show. Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty pictures
~ above Sunday, February 3, much more than 100 million Americans are expected to clock Super bowl 53 and also its halftime show. That sort of viewership way that many years, the halftime show is a coveted performance slot — but this year, the shrouded in controversy.

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Maroon 5 are collection to perform, with Travis Scott and huge Boi do guest appearances. But all 3 acts were included to the slate so late in the process, after ~ multiple stars supposedly turned under the chance to appear during the halftime show. And both Maroon 5 and also Travis Scott have actually fielded major backlash after ~ announcing your performances.

Here’s how the Super bowl halftime show, an institution that was once the greatest showcase in American music, ended up begging for performers in 2019.

The debate over this year’s Super Bowl starts with Colin Kaepernick

In 2016, Colin Kaepernick to be a back-up quarterback for the san Francisco 49ers. After speaking v a previous NFL player who had actually served as a environment-friendly Beret, he decided that he would certainly no much longer stand throughout the singing of the national anthem before games. Instead, in a quiet act the protest versus police shootings the unarmed black Americans, he would certainly kneel. “I am not going to wake up to present pride in a flag for a nation that oppresses black people and also people of color,” the said.

Slowly, other NFL players join the protest, and also conservative outrage an installed in response. Kneeling athletes, suggested some top top the right, to be disrespecting the American flag, and also by extension American veterans. Part conservatives urged a basic NFL boycott.

President trumped chimed in, through rhetoric that enhanced the already charged racial politics surrounding the protest. “You understand what’s hurting the game: when civilization like yourselves turn on television,” he claimed at a rally with greatly white attendees in September 2017, “and you view those people” — an interpretation the mainly black athletes that the NFL — “taking the knee once they are playing our good national anthem.” That October, Vice president Mike Pence walked the end of a game when football player knelt throughout the anthem.

The NFL at an initial supported that players, saying that they were encouraged however not compelled to stand throughout the play of the national anthem. But as outrage mounted, the league adjusted its tune.

After coming to be a totally free agent in the spring of 2017, Colin Kaepernick to be not available a contract from any team in the league. (He has because filed an official grievance against the NFL, saying it colluded to store him native working.) and in May 2018, the NFL announced a brand-new policy. Currently players would be intended to stand for the anthem if they to be on the sidelines yet were given the alternative of continuing to be in the locker room instead. If they protested, they would certainly be fined.

The plan was madness unpopular, and last fall, the NFL announced that it would certainly no much longer enforce it. (Athletes have actually knelt in protest this season there is no consequence.) Kaepernick, however, stays off the field.

Rihanna, always a trendsetter, reportedly turned down the Super bowl halftime gig. Others complied with suit.

Rumblings that the 2019 Super bowl halftime display would it is in unusual first began to surface in the fall, when reports emerged that the NFL had readily available the headlining spot come Rihanna and also she declined. Reportedly, she cited Kaepernick in she reasoning.

“The NFL and also CBS really want Rihanna to be following year’s demonstrate in Atlanta,” a source told us Weekly in October. “They available it to her, yet she said no since of the kneeling controversy. She no agree through the NFL’s stance.”

According come Entertainment Tonight, the NFL also reached out to Pink, yet she turned them down too, when contract negotiation dragged on also long.

Eventually, reports emerged that Maroon 5 would do at the super Bowl. And also before the story was ever before confirmed by one of two people the NFL or Maroon 5, thousands of world signed a Change.org petition calling on the team to drop out.

“Kaepernick risked his job to take a knee because that equality, and also the NFL punished him for it,” wrote petition starter Vic Oyedeji. “Until the league alters their policy and also support players’ constitutional best to protest, no artists should agree to work-related with the NFL. Join me in asking Maroon 5 come drop the end of the 2019 Super bowl halftime show.” The petition right now has over 110,000 signatures.

“I think it would be cool if backed the end of at sight bowl like Did,” composed comedian Amy Schumer ~ above Instagram. She added that she to be refusing to show up in any Super key commercials because that 2019. (Schumer did no say even if it is she was offered any type of commercials this year, however she’s done Super key commercials in the past, including a Bud light commercial v Seth Rogen in 2016.) “I recognize opposing the nfl is choose opposing the nra,” she wrote. “Very tough, but don’t you desire to it is in proud of exactly how you’re living?”

“You know, ns think that once you look earlier at every single halftime show, civilization just can’t — that this choose insatiable advice to hate a little bit,” Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine called Entertainment this evening of the controversy. “I’m not in the appropriate profession if i can’t manage a small bit that controversy. The what that is. We expected it. We’d favor to relocate on indigenous it.”

In the wake of the controversy, Maroon 5 were supposedly desperate because that an artist of shade to execute with

As the Super bowl approached through no sign of a guest performer, rumors emerged that Maroon 5 were desperate to find someone, ideally one artist of color, to perform with them, and also they couldn’t obtain anyone to say yes.

In December, range reported that the band had reached the end to “more 보다 a half-dozen stars” to join them because that the halftime show, including André Benjamin (a.k.a. André 3000 that Outkast), mar J. Blige, Usher, Lauryn Hill, and Nicki Minaj. Yet every last one, variety reported, said no.

The obvious selection to fill the featured guest artist slot would have been Cardi B. Cardi collaborated v Maroon 5 top top a remix that “Girls like Us” in 2018, and also her star is only rising; her name had remained in the mix because that featured guest artist starting in September, well before Maroon 5 was also confirmed. But in December, she reportedly decreased the offer.

Reports vary as to why Cardi claimed no. One resource told web page Six the she would only do that if the NFL available her $1 million (halftime performers are frequently unpaid). But another said the Cardi, favor Rihanna, was standing in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, and that she would certainly only take into consideration performing “when they rental Colin Kaepernick back.”

Cardi has actually long been vocal in her support of Kaepernick. In ~ the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards, she offered her accept speech for Best brand-new Artist together an possibility to scream him out, saying, “Colin Kaepernick: As lengthy as friend kneel through us, us gonna it is in standing for you, baby.”

A rep because that Cardi B told page Six the the reports she was demanding $1 million are false, and also that when “she was not specifically interested in participating since of exactly how she feels around Colin Kaepernick and the entirety movement,” she no actually revolve down the supervisor Bowl since “there was never a solid offer for she to say yes or no to.”

Travis Scott has tried to prevent backlash for taking the halftime gig. It could have backfired.

Shortly after news leaked that Cardi B would not be performing, two new names took center stage: Outkast rapper big Boi and also rapper Travis Scott.

Big Boi has largely avoided do too much noise around his appearance, and considering that Super key 53 is following at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, his status as a representative the the Atlanta music step at one Atlanta-hosted Super bowl may have softened the criticism versus him. (A sub-controversy that sorts, surprise beneath the Kaepernick protests, centered on outrage over the idea the a Super bowl halftime present in a city through a rich hip-hop background like Atlanta would certainly spotlight primarily white artists.)

But Scott, who told Rolling stone in December that he was start to get connected with progressive politics, and also who stumped for Texas Senate candidate and also Ted Cruz challenger Beto O’Rourke in last fall’s midterm elections, immediately drew heavy criticism. Jay-Z supposedly tried to talk him the end of acquisition the job.

“I think he should do what a most other significant artists have actually done: say ‘I’m no going come participate,” claimed Rev. Al Sharpton. “You can’t fight against Jim Crow and then go sit in the ago of the bus.”

In an noticeable move come neutralize the criticism against him, Scott announced in January the he will donate $500,000 in partnership v the NFL come the nonprofit organization Dream Corps, together with “other efforts that that will work-related with the league on.”

“I earlier anyone who takes a stand for what they think in,” said Scott. “I understand being an artist that it’s in my strength to inspire.”

Almost immediately after that announced his donation, Scott officially evidenced that he would certainly be performing through Maroon 5 at the Super bowl halftime show. A “source close come Scott” told variety that Scott spoke v Kaepernick before he make his decision and that the two had reached a ar of “mutual respect,” however Kaepernick later on retweeted a statement native his girlfriend that declared that “there is NO common respect” between them.

“Colin doesn’t tell Travis what that can and also can’t do,” fired earlier a Scott source. “That’s Travis’ decision.”

Meanwhile, Gladys Knight, the Empress the Soul, announced in January the she would certainly be singing the nationwide anthem to open the game. She defended her selection strongly.

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“I know that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things and they space police violence and also injustice. The is unfortunate the our national Anthem has actually been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses the the nationwide Anthem and fighting because that justice should each stand alone,” Knight claimed in a statement to E! News. “I am right here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3 to provide the Anthem back its voice, to stand for the historic selection of words, the way it hold together us when we listen it and to complimentary it indigenous the same prejudices and struggles i have dealt with long and hard for every my life.”

For his part, Kaepernick has declined to comment directly on the controversy. He sometimes retweets others’ statements around the issue, yet he doesn’t tweet around it himself, and he never ever grants interviews. “He has grown way to the power of his silence,” said a GQ file in 2017.

In plenty of ways, that’s fitting. This Super key 53 halftime show controversy is one that, choose Kaepernick’s activism, is defined by silence. It is identified by artists declining to raise your voices in service of the NFL — in spite of the 100 million viewers the NFL have the right to offer them.

Correction: An earlier version of this story attributed reports that the NFL had approached Pink to Entertainment Weekly. The outlet was in reality Entertainment Tonight.