NFL demands M.I.A. pay $1.5 mil for her middle finger at 2012 Super Bowl


This is an interesting development in light of the brouhaha following Miley Cyrus at the VMAs. You know, the twerk heard round the world. Of course the parenting associations freaked and people wrote ridiculous complaints to the FCC. Never mind that any parent with a tween girl should know better than to let them watch the VMAs. It’s a notoriously risqué cable awards show. Don’t do it.

In contrast, the Super Bowl is a relatively family friendly, network-televised program. At least that’s the reputation the NFL seeks to protect, and they are taking aim at M.I.A. for her 2012 performance with Madonna. Remember how M.I.A. flipped the bird and sang “I don’t give a sh-t” (video here)? Madonna was so angry and called it “such a teenager/irrelevant thing to do.” The NFL hasn’t forgotten the incident. All this time they have been pursuing legal action. They are demanding M.I.A. pay a $1.5 million fine for a split-second flipping of the bird. What?


On Feb. 5, 2012, nearly 167 million TV viewers tuned in to Super Bowl XLVI to watch a matchup between the New York Giants and New England Patriots. Besides the football action, what had people talking that day was a halftime performance by M.I.A. and, specifically, how she extended her middle finger during a performance of “Give Me All Your Luvin’ ” while mouthing, “I don’t give a sh-t.”

But the NFL did care. One month after the performance, the league initiated legal proceedings against the English-Sri Lankan rapper-singer. In a March 13, 2012, filing at the American Arbitration Association, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, the league demanded $1.5 million from M.I.A. for allegedly breaching her performance contract and tarnishing its goodwill and reputation.

In the 18 months since, the 38-year-old M.I.A. (born Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam) has been waging a secret legal war with the NFL over what happened at Super Bowl XLVI. Last week, league lawyers continued their push to have her deemed liable for her actions on summary judgment before moving to a trial for damages.

This is not going over too well with M.I.A, best known for her catchy agitpop music including the hit song “Paper Planes,” which includes the repeated sound of gunfire. She’s also used her fame to spotlight human rights abuses in her war-torn South Asian homeland. Now her lawyer Howard King tells THR that his client plans to launch a public war on the mega-powerful football league.

“She is going to go public with an explanation of how ridiculous it was for the NFL and its fans to devote such furor to this incident, while ignoring the genocide occurring in her home country and several other countries, topics she frequently speaks to,” King says.

King adds that she had hoped to settle the case privately once it became clear that neither NBC nor the FCC were ever going to make a stink over what the NFL says in legal papers was an “offensive gesture … in flagrant disregard for the values that form the cornerstone of the NFL brand and the Super Bowl.”

“Of course, the NFL’s claimed reputation for wholesomeness is hilarious,” King tells THR, “in light of the weekly felonies committed by its stars, the bounties placed by coaches on opposing players, the homophobic and racist comments uttered by its players, the complete disregard for the health of players and the premature deaths that have resulted from same, and the raping of public entities ready to sacrifice public funds to attract teams.”

An NFL spokesman didn’t have immediate comment on the legal dispute or King’s comments beyond saying that “any monetary damages for her actions would have been donated to charity.”

[From Hollywood Reporter]

This is a pure and simple (metaphorical) witch hunt. A $1.5 million fine is ridiculous and seeks only to punish — not to protect the “wholesomeness” of the NFL. Of course the NFL is trying to put the fear into future Super Bowl performers. You know what I think? The NFL is trying to make M.I.A. pay for Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s boobgate. They could never prove that JT and Janet intentionally flashed the flesh. The problem is M.I.A. was dumb enough to flip the bird, which can’t be explained away as an accident. Hopefully the case will settle before going to court.



Photos courtesy of WENN

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

55 Responses to “NFL demands M.I.A. pay $1.5 mil for her middle finger at 2012 Super Bowl”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    She intentionally violated her contract. She should take responsibility for it and settle the case. Grow up.

    • Elle says:

      Exactly. The argument that there are more important issues in the world is irrelevant. It’s great that she wants to stop the horrors of genocide however that doesn’t exclude her from complying with a contract she signed. As to the wholesomeness of the NFL, that is also irrelevant. She signed the contract and broke the contract. Simple as that.

    • Andrew says:

      Agreed. It broke the contract. And I don’t mind the NFL using her as an example to strike fear into future performers. If that’s what it takes to prevent a Miley wreck from happening, then I’m ok with it.

    • MonicaQ says:

      +1, she broker her contract. Goodell gon’ get his money.

    • Angel says:

      I also agree!! Anyone who signs a contract and then purposely breaks it and comes up with some “but it doesn’t really matter and doesn’t rank anywhere on the importance scale in terms of world events” excuse is being an ignorant child. I’m sure there was a very black and white agreement about what was allowed and what wasn’t, and she went ahead and broke the rules. When you break the rules, you must pay the consequences. No, flipping the bird isn’t a huge deal (to most people) but the NFL doesn’t want stuff like that on their broadcast, and she blatantly disregarded that. Be an adult and own up to your actions and pay the price.

    • Janet says:

      Says the NFL what did that contract say? Was there a paragraph that referred to a 1.5M fine? I doubt that there was a middle finger clause. The argument that it was part of her art could be given, anyone who is familiar with her would expect this. Many things are done in the heat/passion of a moment.

    • Mrsjennyk says:

      Exactly! If Madge can follow the contractual obligations then so shoukd MIA. you broke your contract you pay the price

    • Ultramaradonna says:

      Madonna greatest hits december 2013

      CD1 :
      02.Express Yourself
      04.4 Minutes
      05.Girl Gone Wild
      06.Justify My Love
      07.Papa Don’t Preach
      08.American Life
      09.Like A Virgin
      10.Open Your Heart
      12.Into The Groove
      13.Die Another Day
      14.True Blue
      15.Give It 2 Me
      18.This Used To Be My Playground

      CD2 :
      01.Like A Prayer
      03.Don’t Tell Me
      05.Crazy For You
      06.Human Nature
      07.Dress You Up
      09.Ray Of Light
      10.Give Me All Your Luvin’
      11.La Isla Bonita
      14.Get Together
      15.Oh Father
      17.Lucky Star
      18.You Must Love Me

      CD3 :
      02.Live To Tell
      04.Who’s That Girl
      05.Love Profusion
      06.Hung Up
      07.Don’t Cry For Me Argentina
      08.Hanky Panky
      09.Beautiful Stranger
      11.Deeper And Deeper
      12.Material Girl
      13.The Power Of Good-Bye
      15.Take A Bow
      16.Nothing Fails
      17.Bedtime Story

  2. Bubbling says:

    Like Madonna is the one to speak, please… They don’t care about “right”, they just smelled the money since her hubby is loaded.

    • Kitten Mittens says:

      Madonna is a leading expert at doing dumb, pointless stuff for attention in youth. If anyone can call her out it’s Madonna!

      • Boxy Lady says:

        I actually think Madonna was super-pissed off about that middle finger and I don’t mean because it gave M.I.A. more attention. I saw part of Madonna’s pre-Super Bowl press conference and she was thrilled to be a part of it because her father is a huge NFL fan. She said something like the half-time show would be the first show that she was in that her father would be interested in. She really wanted to do a good job.

    • Jenny says:

      I think 1.5 million probably means a lot more to MIA or other future halftime acts than to the NFL; they’re taking in about 9 billion a year.

    • Ok says:

      Her hubby is loaded? Good for her. I have never heard of her.

      But I guess money really doesn’t buy class

    • eliza says:

      As far as I know she and Bronfman never married and are going through a highly contentious custody battle over the child they had together. Ther e is no Bronfman money coming to her aid anytime soon.

    • ol cranky says:

      you mean her ex-hubby with whim she is in a horrendous custody battle?

  3. blue marie says:

    I’m an NFL fan and had no idea about the lawsuit, seems a bit ridiculous to me. NFL is just trying to get a payout to help pay for the huge settlement they owe for brain injuries and research.

    • Jenny says:

      As I said above, I think they are more trying to be punitive and make a point than sniffing for money. 1.5 million is pretty much chump change to the NFL. I just recently found out that are even considered a non-profit, so that 9 billion that they make us not even taxed.

    • Spooks says:

      Can I ask something that’s not directly related to this story?
      I recently saw my first ever NFL game and can I ask, how do you people don’t lose all your nerves watching it? ALL THE COMMERCIALS!! All the time. It almost feels like sport comes second.
      And, the fans are a bit, well, lame. Not the atmosphere I’m used to at stadiums.

      Oh, another question. I saw a clip from the female league. Why do female players wear bikinis?

      • Tiffany :) says:

        The commercials ARE outrageous, but it is the most watched program that is available on tv. The young, old, middles ages all watch football, so the ad space is highly sought after.

        The “female league” isn’t a real football league…it is models bouncing around in bikinis and has nothing to do with the NFL.

      • Spooks says:

        Oh, thanks for the clarification.

        The UEFA Championship League is also very watched, but the commercials only come during half time, no matter how sought after the ad space is. Maybe that’s because football doesn’t have so many breaks.

      • Tiffany :) says:

        Spooks, that would be so nice! Because of all of the stops and starts the games end up lasting sooooo long. It makes it hard for me to watch a whole game.

    • Ok says:

      Blue Marie — I do not mean for my reply to be mean or hurtful so please don’t take it that way.

      But very uninformed comment. There were 108 MILLION VIEWERS to that Super Bowl. CBS generated $203 MILLION DOLLARS IN REVENUE for advertisements during the Super Bowl.

      It is a big deal. There are families watching.

      For her to pull that classless stunt during the Superbowl is completely and utterly unacceptable.

      They should nail her hide to the wall financially and make her pay every last cent to set an example of what can happen if you break the clauses of the contract.

  4. Kemper says:


  5. Erinn says:

    If she violated her contract, then she needs to face the consequences of her choices. If the NFL doesn’t have legal standing to do this, then they’re just trying to make an example out of her. Mixed feelings with this one.

  6. Lindy says:

    Like Madonna, MIA tries to be ‘edgy’ and ‘outspoken’ and then gets her undies in a bundle when people are offended. When you go out of your way to offend people – surprise! – they’re offended.

    Not sure who her gesture was aimed at, but if she doesn’t like the NFL, the USA, or anyone else in her audience, she could have always declined to play the SuperBowl.

    It’s not really cool to take someone’s money – in this case the NFL – and then give them the finger. Now they want their money back. Fair enough.

    • Another Ann says:

      Totally agree. And it’s ridiculous of her lawyer to start bashing the NFL. She had no problem taking the NFL’s money, and performing at their biggest event. She agreed to endorse/represent them by doing so. Now she has a problem with them?

      The NFL isn’t blameless here either. If it was “family entertainment” they were after, MIA was not exactly the best choice. You get what you pay for.

  7. tifzlan says:

    Honestly, it’s not like the parents of the children watching the NFL haven’t flipped the bird in their whole lives ever. And i’m willing to bet that some of them even do it in front of their children, whether it’s due to road rage or some other cause. Maybe M.I.A. should be fined for what she did, i’m kind of on the fence, but $1.5 mil is a little too much.

    • TheOriginalKitten says:

      ITA. I’m a big fan of MIA so maybe I’m biased but $1.5 seems completely ridiculous to me.

      Yeah it was probably a stupid thing to do but are people really offended by the middle finger? I mean, if it’s part of a staged performance? Not like it’s personal you know? Eh….

      • blue marie says:

        I am offended and mortified, do you think they’ll award me the 1.5 mil instead? I had to watch Madonna, I need some pain and suffering money. ha, this is beyond ridiculous.

      • TheOriginalKitten says:


        *high fives bluemarie*

      • Tiffany :) says:

        I agree that the gesture is essentially harmless…but if she signed a contract, she needs to take responsibility for that.

        The Super Bowl IS a family event, and if the NFL wants to keep the half time show to a certain level of family-friendly-ness, then I understand their position. It isn’t like they didn’t make her aware of ahead of time to keep it super squeaky clean.

    • NerdMomma says:

      Eh. We were at a Super Bowl party and my kiddos were watching the game, but they have no interest in the stupid halftime show. No one did, we were all getting snacks. They’ve seen people on tv flip the bird, and I’ve told them it’s a rude gesture, and that’s that. I can parent my children, and guide them in how to view the things they see on tv. It’s okay that I can’t control everything they are exposed to.

    • Ok says:

      Not when you are charging advertisers $203 million and they have an expectation of a family friendly sporting event.

      There are very few events where am artist will get to preform to an audience of 108 million people.

      You may not think flipping the bird is a big deal. (Personally I have a major potty mouth so a middle finger is not a big deal)

      But there is an ENORMOUS portion of this population that is highly offended by swearing and obscene gestures.

      If she wants to flip the bird at one of her concerts than that is her choice.

      But when you are hired by a major corporation to do entertainment where there are huge advertising fees charged and hundreds of millions watching, it is stupid, assenime, irresponsible and dishonest.

      There are people who trusted her and she deceived them and let them down with her stupidity.

      1.5 million sound like a nice number to me

  8. UghInsomnia says:

    It was a rude gesture. Seriously? If a rude gesture is truly offensive to you, you should take a good look at yourself and get your life. The NFL should know and research who they hire.

    She violated her contract; ok, fine her, whatever, but $1.5m is ludicrous.

    • Kitten Mittens says:

      Seems fair. Put the fear into the performers that if they try to make the show about their stunt queen antics and less about a good performance the NFL will hit them in their wallet. Future acts will be less likely to do the same.
      Totally agree with this.

    • Ok says:

      1.5 million is a good amount

      She didn’t flip the bird during Saturday Night Live.

      She did it during the Superbowl

  9. Adrien says:

    A middle finger no one noticed until the media reported about it the NEXT DAY. In fact, no one knew M.I.A. was part of the show. No one was talking about her or Nicky Minaj.

    • Scarlet Vixen says:

      I absolutely noticed it, and was pretty offended. I have never flipped anyone the bird (and I spent 15yrs in the military so I’m beyond familiar with profanity). I found it to be stupid, offensive & juvenile. Our family are all huge sports fans & I host a big Super Bowl party every year. My 5yr old son doesn’t need to see that, and neither do my nieces, nephews, nor me or my parents for that matter. But, it’s not my-or your-definition of offensive that matters. It’s the NFL’s. She signed a contract that you can sure as heck had a decency clause that she clearly & intentionally violated. Was it stupid on the NFL’s part to have someone perform that is likely to do something ‘offensive’? Yeah, but a contract is a contract regardless.

      Oh, and 1.5mil is NOTHING to the NFL. It’s not even pocket change. They’re not doing it for the money-they’re using this as an example to show performers that they won’t tolerate anymore fingers and nip slips.

    • Ok says:

      No one noticed? I noticed. She did it directly to the camera during the live feed

  10. gg says:

    Wow, she was really pretty until she put on that blue outfit and bleached her hair – ugh.

    She is well old enough to not be acting like a bratty teenager on national TV, shooting birds at any camera lens like they do. Tired of seeing it, very very unattractive, and she should have had the maturity to know better than risk breach of contract.

    That said, $1.5 mil is absurd.

  11. Tessa says:

    I’m ok with the NFL going after her for breach of contract, but 1.5 million? For flipping the bird? FFS, that’s an extreme amount of money. It makes them seem like tyrannical psychopaths rather than a legit organization going after minor damages for a minor incident.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      To be fair, it is very possible that they incurred legal costs of having to defend themselves from action from the FCC, etc.

  12. Kiddo says:

    I despise the NFL.

  13. Hillshmill says:

    Interesting fact of the day: The NFL is set up as a non-profit organization. They don’t pay taxes on the millions upon millions of dollars generated. Instead, the “profits” are given to the CEOs and commissioners as salaries and bonuses. The NFL teams don’t even own their own stadiums; the cities that the stadiums are located in do. It’s mind-boggling.

  14. GeeMoney says:

    They are going to fine her… 8 months later?!? I think that the NFL is the only organization or people who actually she remembered that she did that… b/c I totally forgot.

    And not to mention… who gives a s%^$?

  15. Dommy Dearest says:

    How about the NFL pays some damn taxes? Or they can use the money they don’t pay their taxes with to pay the $1.5 million. Oh gee look at that.

  16. taxi says:

    She breached her contract. Whether it was deliberate “as part of a staged performance” or not is beside the point. DJs & newscasters get fired for language which some, but not all, people consider offensive. She took the job knowing it’s not an adult-only event & should experience consequences.
    I suspect $1.5M is a number the NFL expected to negotiate. Imo, she should forfeit whatever she was paid for the job + the 50-100K she got as travel-lodging-entourage pay. Yes, the booking agent the NFL used did hire her but the agents make it very clear what type of show the entertainer expected to put on. Entertainers know that corporate events have different standards than paid-ticket concerts attended by fans.

    • Ok says:

      Thank you Taxi. I am amazed at the nber of posters that are like ” oh no big deal”

      And they are probably the same people that get steamy road rage when someone flips them off in traffic.

      Flipping off on a huge event where there is a lot of as revenue generated is a MAJOR deal.

  17. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    She used to be cool.

  18. St says:

    Well they can’t demand 10 000 from her. That’s nothing for her. She probably owns millions. So they want that amount of money that will make her feel that loss.

    And I actually want them to win. I don’t like all those immature celebrities who are always like: “I can do whatever I want. So what if they don’t allow it. I’m so cool that I will do it anyway. They don’t allow me to curse on live air? Whatever. I’l do it anyway. Because that’s how super cool I am…”

    Let her pay and do it as an example for others. And they should have punish Justin and Janet too.

  19. Sophie says:

    She looks really young for her age

  20. Maya Dragunova says:

    She could ask the LTTE to give her the $ 1.5M! Oh wait… the terrorists she supported are no more:(

  21. Str8Shooter says:

    I am LMAO at this story. Love that this ghetto trash ‘performer’ is being called out on her 13 year-old antics.

    Hell, make it 2 million!