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OFF BEAT: NFL ups ante to $16.6M for rapper's Super Bowl middle finger


A momentary gesture with her finger could end up costing rap singer M.I.A. $16.6 million, at least if the National Football League has its way — but she is hardly taking the demand quietly.

In her Feb. 5, 2012, appearance during Super Bowl XLVI, more than 167 million were watching as the rapper — whose real name is Mathangi Arulpragasam — extended her middle finger during a performance of “Give Me All Your Luvin,’” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

For the two years since, the NFL has been seeking $1.5 million from M.I.A. for allegedly breaching her performance contract and tarnishing its goodwill and reputation.

Now, it has considerably upped the ante, according to the report, by seeking an additional $15.1 million more in “restitution” as the alleged value of public exposure she received by appearing for about two minutes during Madonna’s performance. That figure is based on what advertisers would have paid for ads during that time.

But M.I.A. evidently has no plans to sit down and write a check. In response papers filed last week, she states the claim for restitution “lacks any basis in law, fact or logic.”

The response also says the “continued pursuit of this proceeding is transparently an exercise by the NFL intended solely to bully and make an example of Respondents for daring to challenge NFL.”

Furthermore, the arbitration papers for M.I.A. go on to talk about the “profane, bawdy, lascivious, demeaning and/or unacceptable behavior by its players, team owners, coaching and management personnel and by performers chosen and endorsed by NFL to perform in its halftime shows.” It goes on to criticize previous performances by Michael Jackson, Prince and Madonna at earlier halftime shows.

The no-holds barred response even throws in for good measure the recent bullying scandal in which Miami Dolphins player Richie Incognito was accused of bullying Jonathan Martin.

And while it’s unclear how this will all work out, it’s probably safe to say M.I.A. is unlikely to be invited back to perform at another Super Bowl.