Jay-Z says family's sitting during national anthem at Super Bowl was not political statement

"I didn't have to make a silent protest," the rap mogul said. "The artists that we chose, Colombian Shakira, Puerto Rican J-Lo. We were making the biggest loudest protest of all."
Image: Rap artist Jay-Z and his daughter Blue Ivy arrive at Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium.
Rap artist Jay-Z and his daughter Blue Ivy arrive at Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium.Robert Deutsch / Reuters

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By Minyvonne Burke

Rapper Jay-Z said he and his family were not trying to make a political statement when they remained seated during the national anthem at the Super Bowl.

In a video posted Sunday by TMZ, the rap mogul, his wife, Beyoncé, and their 8-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy, were seen sitting as they watched Demi Lovato's performance. The gesture led to speculation that the celebrity couple was making a silent protest.

But, during a discussion Tuesday at Columbia University, Jay-Z said that wasn't the case.

"It wasn't. Sorry," he said when asked if his family's remaining in their seats was meant to convey a message. "It really wasn't."

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The rapper, who became a co-producer of the halftime show after his Roc Nation company partnered with the NFL, explained that he and his wife had jumped into "artist mode" and were watching Yolanda Adams' performance of "America the Beautiful" and Lovato's national anthem to make sure everything went smoothly.

"I'm looking at the show. 'Did the mic start? Was it too low to start?'" he said.

"The whole time we're sitting there, we're talking about the performance. 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," he continued. "We're so proud of her."

Jay-Z went on to say that if he and Beyoncé were going to protest, they wouldn't involve their daughter. The rapper also said he thought the halftime show with Jennifer Lopez and Shakira itself made a statement.

"I didn't have to make a silent protest. If you look at the stage, the artists that we chose, Colombian Shakira, Puerto Rican J-Lo. We were making the biggest loudest protest of all," he said.

Jay-Z entered into a partnership with the NFL in August. The deal was criticized because he had previously shown support for Colin Kaepernick, who as a San Francisco 49ers quarterback made headlines during the 2016 NFL season for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality against blacks.

Kaepernick has not been signed by any team since he opted out of his contract with the 49ers in March 2017 to become a free agent.