Super Bowl: Do performers get paid? What to know about halftime performances, show cost

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If there is one thing that is more exciting than the Super Bowl itself, it is the Super Bowl halftime performance, which over the years has evolved into one of sport’s biggest spectacles with superstar performances from Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Madonna, Aerosmith and U2.

In the last 60 years, the halftime festivities have gone from being a family-oriented show with patriotic tunes to becoming entertainment’s biggest stage with top-tier performers, pyrotechnics and impressive backup dancers. The 12-to-15 minute performance sometimes attracts more eyeballs than the actual championship game, consistently drawing more than 100 million viewers.

The halftime show has continued to evolve over the years, sometimes giving fans more to talk about than the singing like Diana Ross’ iconic helicopter exit in 1996, Janet Jackson’s wardrobe mishap in 2004 and Rihanna’s pregnancy reveal in 2023.

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Do Super Bowl halftime performers get paid?

Despite the euphoria surrounding the event, entertainers do not get paid to play the Super Bowl. At least not what they usually make. They only make union scale for the performances, according to AZ Central, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK. That is “a fraction of the six- and seven-figure sums” compared to what the artists typical earn, as per Forbes.

While the NFL did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for a comment, an NFL rep, in a statement to The Independent in February last year, said that the league “covers all costs associated with the show and does pay the halftime performers’ union scale.”

How much does the Super Bowl halftime cost?

An elaborate production like the halftime show costs the NFL up to $10m, according to Forbes and in 2021, The Weeknd reportedly spent $7m of his own money on the show.

Why do celebrities perform at the Super Bowl?

It’s simple. The Super Bowl halftime stage is the biggest stage in the nation, with an artist tasked with entertaining more than 100 million viewers across the country.

“This is the most grand stage to ever play on,” said Usher, who will headline the Super Bowl 58 halftime show at Allegiant Stadium on Feb. 11 in Las Vegas. “It’s an honor of a lifetime to finally check a Super Bowl performance off my bucket list.”

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Rihanna’s performance at the Super Bowl last year became the most watched in history with over 121 million viewers, barely edging Katy Perry’s 2015 show. The number from Rihanna’s set is about 6 million more than Fox’s broadcast of the Kansas City Chiefs’ 38-35 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles.

RiRi’s Spotify streams also went soaring, as per Hypebot, with overall streams up 349% while “Bitch Better Have My Money” — her opening song at an event for which she was paid union scale — saw a spike of 1,796%.

In 2017, Lady Gaga saw a 1,000% increase in song and album sales after the Super Bowl.

In short, it’s totally worth it.

Saman Shafiq is a trending news reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at sshafiq@gannett.com and follow her on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter @saman_shafiq7.

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