Rihanna has received an apology from Stephen A. Smith after he made headlines for downplaying the singer’s forthcoming Super Bowl halftime performance in favor of Beyoncé.
The famed sportscaster delivered his apology in an Instagram post on Wednesday (January 18), shortly after his initial comments on The Sherri Show went viral.
“I just got out of First Take and I saw some headline that’s circulating all over the place about my quote that Rihanna ain’t Beyoncé,” Smith began. “See, I’m gonna own it. I know what y’all tryna do but I’m gon’ own it because I get paid to speak for a living so I need to be more careful.
“I want Rihanna to know — you’re a superstar,” he continued. “You’re sensational. You’re spectacular. You’re no joke. And you are a worthy person to be doing the Super Bowl halftime show. Having said all of that, I was answering a question from Sherri Shepherd who took over the Wendy Williams Show and now got her own thing going and I’m very proud of her. And she asked me with a bunch of sisters in the audience what she asked me.”
“Now I’m a Beyoncé fan. I think that Beyoncé is not only a phenomenal performer, THE phenomenal performer. And the only reason any kind of comparison came into play is because Beyoncé performed at halftime at the Super Bowl not just by herself but one separate Super Bowl performance with Bruno Mars and Coldplay. And I thought those were two of the greatest shows that I’ve ever seen.”
“So what I’m saying is anybody has to measure up to that. Last year with Snoop and Dre and Mary J. and Eminem, I was like, ‘Bruno Mars, Beyoncé, Coldplay. Big time! They got to measure up to that.’ Anybody who does a Super Bowl halftime show, forever I’m gonna say, ‘Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Coldplay. And then Beyoncé by themselves.’ Michael Jackson could still be alive and I would say it’s gotta measure up to that.”
“Eminem, who’s one of my favorites, I would say that about him! Coldplay, when they talked about Coldplay initially for the Super Bowl, I was like, ‘Not enough! That can’t measure up to Beyoncé and Bruno Mars!’ Or Bruno Mars by himself. Or Beyoncé by herself. I’ve always said that. I meant it as no disrespect to Rihanna. I know she’s phenomenal. And she’s my sister. Nothing but love for her. But Beyoncé is my sister too! I got love for both of them.”
“I just think that Beyoncé is the greatest performer out there today. That’s me! That doesn’t mean I’m hating on anybody else. That doesn’t mean I’m damn sure wishing for Rihanna to fail. I don’t believe she’s gonna fail. She’s gonna be great! I’m just saying that I’m a Beyoncé fan. That’s all. That’s it.”
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He ended his video by wishing Rihanna well and apologizing once again.
“Rihanna, go do your thing. I apologize for creating whatever brouhaha comes of this. I gotta be more careful where people twist it and turn it into something it ain’t. My bad on that. Now I gotta go. Good luck sweetie. Looking forward to seeing you perform at halftime during the Super Bowl. You know you gotta turn it out. And I believe you will! All the best to you.”
On his Wednesday morning appearance on The Sherri Show, Smith had said Rih Rih is “not Beyoncé” – which sparked the controversy.
“There’s one thing she’s not, she ain’t Beyoncé,” he said – to which he was met with boos from the crowd. “The only reason I brought up Beyoncé is because Beyoncé recently performed at the Super Bowl.”
Rihanna will take the stage at the Super Bowl LVII halftime show in Glendale, Arizona on February 12. Rih has remained tight-lipped about performance details, but many fans hope to see some of her superstar collaborators hit the stage as special guests throughout the 12-minute set.