Super Bowl's most viral celebrity moments: From Janet Jackson's wardrobe mishap to Katy Perry's left shark


As one the world’s biggest sporting events, it comes as no surprise that the Super Bowl attracts a host of A-list stars to its spectacle.

While celebrities’ eyes will be on the game, pop culture vultures will be paying close attention to the famous faces in attendance and hoping for a viral moment to capture the internet’s imagination.

But as we’ve learned from years gone by, it’s not always those watching from the comfort of their suites that have caused the biggest viral moments, but rather the stars performing the halftime show.

From onstage mishaps to out-of-sync costume sharks, the Super Bowl and its halftime show has seen its fair share of memes.

The Standard takes a look at the most viral celebrity Super Bowl moments.

Rihanna’s Surprise Pregnancy Announcement, 2023

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

After a seven-year hiatus from the stage, Rihanna made a triumphant return that left fans in awe, not only for her stellar performance but also for a surprise pregnancy announcement.

The Bajan superstar set the internet ablaze as she casually unveiled her baby bump, leaving viewers stunned at the halftime show.

In a candid revelation, Rihanna clarified that the pregnancy announcement wasn't planned but rather a result of a wardrobe malfunction.

She explained to Access Hollywood: "My jumper couldn’t zip up. No one knew I was pregnant — I just told my stylist 'Make sure it’s stretchy'."

However, the red jumpsuit's zipper refused to cooperate, prompting Rihanna to embrace revealing her exciting news to the world.

Unplanned pregnancy announcement aside, Rihanna's halftime show shattered records, surpassing Katy Perry's 2015 performance as the most-watched Super Bowl halftime show of all time.

Adele Being A Perpetual Meme, 2023

 (ESPN 2)
(ESPN 2)

Before Rihanna set social media alight with her baby joy, viewers were glued to their TV screens hoping for a glimpse of Adele.

Positioned front and centre, the sunglasses-clad pop icon sparked a viral moment on Twitter when she appeared deeply engrossed in animated conversation with two individuals flanking her.

While some fans speculated she might have been shushing them, the truth behind her gestures proved to be quite different.

Last February, the British icon addressed the viral moment at her Las Vegas Residency concert, joking about her newfound status as a perpetual meme.

She quipped: "It’s hard work being a constant meme. Everyone was texting me a meme of myself looking — I don’t know what I looked like."

Setting the record straight, Adele revealed the true nature of her animated conversation during Rihanna's performance.

"I was saying, ‘She’s gonna be fine. She’s gonna like have some weed and be fine’. But clearly, she couldn’t have any weed because she’s pregnant!" she elaborated.

Lady Gaga High Rise Opening, 2017

Renowned for her theatrical flair, Lady Gaga left an unforgettable mark during her Super Bowl halftime show.

The pop icon kicked off the 2017 spectacle in grand fashion, standing on the roof of Houston’s NRG Stadium singing a medley of American classics - God Bless America, This Land is Your Land, and a quick recital of the Pledge of Allegiance - before bravely leaping off to perform her chart-topping hits on the field below.

While her descent may not have been the epitome of gracefulness, it only added to the spectacle, instantly transforming it into one of the most meme-worthy moments in Super Bowl history with many likening her to professional wrestler Sting and SpongeBob SquarePants.

Katy Perry and the Infamous Left Shark, 2015


Katy Perry's halftime spectacle drew a staggering TV audience of 118.5 million viewers nine years ago, solidifying her status as a global pop icon.

With a grand entrance atop a metallic lion and electrifying performances alongside Missy Elliott and Lenny Kravitz, Perry captivated audiences worldwide belting out her catalogue of hits - Firework, Roar and I Kissed A Girl.

However, the performance became a viral sensation when a dancer dressed as a shark lost their choreography, spawning memes and internet fervor.

In the immediate aftermath of the Left Shark's performance blunder, social media erupted as it swiftly gained its own Twitter account.

Bey Reunites with Destiny’s Child, 2013

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Beyoncé raised the halftime show bar to new heights in 2013, dazzling the crowd at the New Orleans Superdrome with hits like Crazy In Love and Single Ladies.

The highlight of the evening came with a surprise reunion of Destiny's Child, as Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams joined Beyoncé on stage, sending waves of elation through R&B fans worldwide.

Despite a minor mishap when Williams momentarily stumbled after emerging from beneath the stage, the trio delivered a sensational rendition of Independent Women Part I, followed by an iconic performance of Single Ladies.

As the stadium reverberated with the thunderous applause after Bey closed out the show with a rousing rendition of Halo, the venue momentarily plunged into darkness, halting the game and leaving football fans momentarily in the dark.

M.I.A.’s Middle Finger Debacle, 2012

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Although not the headlining act, British star M.I.A. made a memorable impact during this halftime show with her guest appearance.

Sharing the stage with pop icon Madonna and Nicki Minaj, they performed their hit Give Me All Your Luvin’, with M.I.A. unexpectedly flipping off the camera at the end of her verse.

Despite the otherwise stellar performance, M.I.A.'s gesture was deemed inappropriate for national television and the NFL responded by suing her for $16.6 million, eventually settling for an undisclosed amount. Surprisingly, the Federal Communications Commission did not impose a fine on her for the incident.

After the lawsuit was made public, the artist cheekily tweeted: “@madonna ummm.... can I borrow 16 million?”

Janet Jackson's Wardrobe Malfunction, 2004

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

In 2004, viewers witnessed what could easily go down in history as the most buzzworthy halftime show ever, famously dubbed Nipplegate.

The impressive musical lineup included Janet Jackson, Kid Rock, P. Diddy, Nelly, and Justin Timberlake in Houston.

As the halftime extravaganza reached its peak, Jackson and Timberlake turned up the heat with a rendition of Timberlake's 2003 smash hit, Rock Your Body, but Timberlake accidentally yanked off a piece of Jackson's costume, revealing a bit more than anticipated.

This incident prompted criticism from the FCC head Michael Powel, who condemned it as a “celebration tainted by a classless, crass, and deplorable stunt”.

While many details surrounding the incident remain unclear, the FCC's subsequent investigation led to Congress passing legislation aimed at increasing fines for “indecency” on television.

In the aftermath, Jackson's career stalled due to the backlash, while Timberlake managed to avoid facing similar consequences.