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Jay-Z Explains Why He Sat During National Anthem: It Wasn’t Political
Jay-Z attends the Pre-GRAMMY Gala and GRAMMY Salute to Industry Icons Honoring Sean "Diddy" Combs on January 25, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California.
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

Depending on your political viewpoint, rapper and music mogul Jay-Z was either a hero during the Super Bowl or a villain when he and his wife Beyonce remained seated during the national anthem.

The two sat while Demi Lovato sang the national anthem ahead of Super Bowl LIV, prompting many to believe he did it in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, the former quarterback who started kneeling during the national anthem once his career started hitting the skids. Kaepernick claimed he was kneeling to protest racism in America, specifically, racist cops, but the stunt did little to make him a desirable player.

Now Jay-Z has said he did not sit as a political statement. TMZ published footage of the rapper’s recent appearance at Columbia University where he stated unequivocally that it was not a political statement. He had been asked by a Columbia professor about whether the alleged stunt was meant to “convey a signal.” Jay-Z responded quickly: “It actually wasn’t. Sorry.”

He then said Beyonce had just explained to him what Lovato must have been thinking while performing in front of so many people because she had “performed at the Super Bowl before, and I haven’t.”

He said he and his wife “immediately jumped into artist mode,” while watching Lovato sing.

“I’m really just looking at the show. The mics start. Was it too low to start?” he told the audience at Columbia.

Jay-Z’s Roc Nation previously had reached a deal with the NFL to produce all of the entertainment at Super Bowls, which included the national anthem, Yolanda Adams’ “American the Beautiful,” and, of course, the halftime show. Jay-Z said he didn’t need to perform a “silent protest” because they were “making the biggest loudest protest of all” by hiring performers from diverse backgrounds.

The mogul also joked that people thought his 8-year-old daughter Blue Ivy must have been in on the protest, saying the young girl would absolutely not be able to keep up the façade.

TMZ also reported that Jay-Z and his family regularly attend sporting events and always stand for the national anthem.

“Sources close to the situation tell us Jay knew revealing the real reason he sat might spark new criticism from Colin Kaepernick supporters — some of whom took Sunday’s video as a sign Jay was backtracking on his ‘We’ve moved past kneeling’ remark,” the outlet reported.

Jay-Z previously defended his partnership with the NFL from critics who were upset that he would allegedly snub Kaepernick.

“As long as real people are being hurt and marginalized and losing family members, then yes, I can take a couple rounds of negative press.” He then said of Kaepernick, “No one is saying he hasn’t been done wrong. He was done wrong. I would understand if it was three months ago. But it was three years ago and someone needs to say, ‘What do we do now — because people are still dying?’”

He said that he and Kaepernick are two adult men who disagree on the tactic but are marching for the same cause.”

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