M.I.A. might want to hang onto all that cash-register-ringing money she earned on “Paper Planes.” The NFL is asking for $16.6 million stemming from the fracas over her middle-finger gesture at the 2012 Super Bowl.
The incident took place during M.I.A.'s halftime performance with Madonna and Nicki Minaj, where the singer briefly flashed what looked like a raised middle finger at the cameras.
The flicked digit came and went in a second, but the NFL took it personally. The league claims the singer-rapper, born Maya Arulpragasam, is in breach of a contract that stipulated her performance preserve the league’s “reputation for wholesomeness.”
The league wants a fine of $1.5 million and restitution of $15.1 million based on NFL estimates of the value of the exposure M.I.A. earned from the performance. They NFL used ad-rate figures for the game to come to that number.
M.I.A., true to form, replied rather scabrously. In documents filed by her lawyer, her team said, “The claim for restitution lacks any basis in law, fact, or logic,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The document also said that the NFL’s “wholesomeness” claim is ridiculous, citing other racy halftime shows by Prince and Michael Jackson, and recent allegations of race-based hazing among players and widespread concern that the league buried and ignored research showing that concussions and mental illness are endemic among players.
M.I.A. made light of the situation when she sent Madonna a tweet asking to borrow $16 million.