The couple and their eight-year-old daughter Blue Ivy remained seated as Demi Lovato performed The Star Spangled Banner at Sunday’s game between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs,
It led to speculation that they were trying to send a message after former NFL player Colin Kaepernick famously kneeled during the national anthem in protest against racial inequality in the US. He has been without a team since 2017.
On Tuesday, Jay-Z appeared at Columbia University and explained why he and Beyonce stayed seated.
“It actually wasn’t. Sorry,” the rapper said when asked if it was an attempt to send a message. “It really wasn’t.”
The 50-year-old, who produced all the musical performances at Sunday’s Super Bowl in his deal with the NFL as the “live music entertainment strategist,” said he and Beyonce jumped straight into “artist mode” when the singing started.
Gospel singer Yolanda Adams performed America The Beautiful before Lovato delivered a well-received rendition of The Star Spangled Banner.
Jay-Z said as the show kicked off he was preoccupied with whether the sound levels were too low and what the TV cameras were picking up.
He added: “And 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 and we’re so proud of her.”
The music mogul said the fact that he and Beyonce staying seated “just happened” and they did not need to make a “silent protest” as the diverse group of performers was “the biggest, loudest protest of all”.
Many viewers interpreted the show’s final section as a deliberate criticism of President Trump’s immigration policies, with child performers singing in what appeared to be glowing cages, and J-Lo singing Born In The USA with the flag of Puerto Rico behind her.
In a behind-the-scenes video recorded shortly before she took to the stage, the Hustlers star leads a prayer circle, taking a few not-so-subtle swipes at the US leader.
“All I want my girls, the little girls on stage with me and all over the world to know is how to use their voices and be proud of everything they are,” she told her team.
“Other people can try to build walls, keep us out or put us in cages. We are proud to recognise that all of us together are what makes this beautiful country truly great.”