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Stephen A. Smith Apologizes to Rihanna for Beyoncé Comparison: ‘You’re a Superstar’

todayJanuary 18, 2023

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Stephen A. Smith walked back the comments he made comparing Rihanna to Beyoncé on Wednesday (Jan. 18).

The moment occurred when the firebrand sports commentator stopped by Sherri Shepherd’s eponymous talk show to discuss the “Needed Me” singer’s upcoming Super Bowl LVII halftime show. “Ladies and gentlemen, she’s a lot of things; she’s spectacular, actually,” he said. “There’s one thing she’s not: She ain’t Beyoncé.”


Obviously, the ill-suited comparison sparked a vocal outcry from the studio audience — as well as backlash among Rihanna’s fans on social media — and hours after the interview aired, Smith hopped on Instagram ready to eat crow. “I’m gonna own it,” he said. “I know what y’all tryin’ to do. But I’m gon’ own it because I get paid to speak for a living, so I need to be more careful.

“I want Rihanna to know: You’re a superstar, you’re sensational, you’re spectacular,” the ESPN personality continued. “You’re no joke. And you are a worthy person to be doing the Super Bowl halftime show.”

However, Smith then attempted to justify his comment by blaming Shepherd for asking a question in front of her largely female studio audience. “Now I’m a Beyoncé fan,” he stated. “I think that Beyoncé is not only a phenomenal performer, but the phenomenal performer. And the only reason any kind of comparison came into play is because Beyoncé performed at halftime at the Super Bowl not just by herself, but one separate Super Bowl performance with Bruno Mars and Coldplay. And I thought that those were two of the greatest shows that I’ve ever seen.

“So what I’m saying is anybody has to measure up to that,” he concluded. “Last year with Snoop and Dre and Mary J. and Eminem, I was like, ‘Bruno Mars! Beyoncé! Coldplay! Big time! They’ve got to measure up to that.’ Anybody who does a Super Bowl halftime show, forever I’m gonna say, ‘Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Coldplay, and Beyoncé by themselves.’ Michael Jackson could still be alive and I would say, ‘It’s gotta measure up to that.’”

Watch Smith’s gasp-inducing Sherri interview and subsequent mea culpa to Rihanna below.

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