Seven-time Grammy winner Gladys Knight will perform the national anthem at the Super Bowl before the New England Patriots vs. Los Angeles Rams game starts.
In front of tens of thousands of football fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, the iconic singer will sing the “Star Spangled Banner” in her hometown to more than 100 million viewers — the largest national stage there is each year.
But how much money will Knight be paid for the gig?
It’s a bit unclear.
The NFL covers “all costs,” from travel and accommodations to production set-up, a NFL spokesperson tells MONEY. But, historically, Super Bowl national anthem singers and halftime performers aren’t compensated much beyond that. The NFL spokesperson says halftime performers — like 2019’s Maroon 5, Travis Scott, and Big Boi — are paid on a “union scale,” likely referring to minimums required by the Screen Actors Guild union. It’s unclear if Knight will receive that payment, and those minimums are far less hefty than the checks acclaimed artists receive for a typical performance.
The NFL did not respond when asked for further clarification, and representatives for Knight and SAG did not respond to requests for comment.
The NFL views the Super Bowl as an opportunity for artists to perform on the biggest national stage by far. With more than 100 million viewers each year, the Super Bowl is far and away the most-watched televised event each year.
Gladys Knight’s national anthem performance this Sunday, Feb. 3, at Super Bowl 2019 is just another event to add to her remarkable career. While the NFL doesn’t pay artists beyond performance costs and union stipulations, the Empress of Soul likely has nothing to worry about in terms of her finances. With hits that span decades, Knight has an estimated net worth of $24 million, according to CelebrityNetWorth.com.
Still, some may wonder why Gladys Knight is singing the national anthem at Super Bowl 2019 at all.
Her performance of the “Star Spangled Banner” comes at a pivotal and controversial time in the NFL. The league has been the subject of criticism for years over its handling of players’ protests against racism and police brutality against unarmed black men. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who leads the “take a knee” movement, hasn’t played professionally since 2017 and has claimed in a grievance that team owners have colluded to keep him out of it. And President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized players who have taken a knee during the national anthem.
A number of performers like Rihanna, Jay Z, and Cardi B reportedly declined to perform at Super Bowl 2019 as a result.
Knight said in a statement that she hopes to “give the Anthem back its voice” with her performance.
“I have been in the forefront of this battle longer than most of those voicing their opinions to win the right to sing our country’s anthem on a stage as large as the Super Bowl,” Knight said.
“I pray that this National Anthem will bring us all together in a way never before witnessed and we can move forward and untangle these truths which mean so much to all of us.”