EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Pop superstar Rihanna will headline the Apple Music Halftime Show at Super Bowl LVII on Sunday.
El Pasoans need no reminder of her beginnings; in 2006, at just 17 years old, Rihanna performed at halftime of the Sun Bowl between Missouri and Oregon State.
Since then, the nine-time Grammy winner has a claim to being the biggest pop star of the last two decades. She’ll play perhaps her biggest show ever on Sunday at Super Bowl LVII.
“Trying to fit a two-hour set into 13 minutes, you’re going to see on Sunday, from the time it starts it just never ends,” she said on Thursday.
She’s a big name now, but when Sun Bowl Executive Director Bernie Olivas was asked about his interest in having her perform in 2006, he didn’t know what to think.
“I said, ‘Who’s that?'” Olivas said with a laugh on Thursday. “I don’t even know who sings my favorite songs, much less people that are past my generation. But I know who she is now.”
Rihanna’s first hit, “Pon de Replay,” had recently been released, so there was some intrigue in what she had to offer.
“When I’m looking for someone, I want someone who has a hook. Someone who’s not going to have the people wanting to leave their seats at halftime,” Olivas said.
With Rihanna, the Sun Bowl picked a winner. She played her memorable set, chatting with Olivas beforehand and posing for a now-famous photo.
“She was about as pleasant as anyone that we’ve ever met or ever had here,” Olivas said.
Months later, Rihanna won her first Grammy for the song “Umbrella,” and the rest is history. On Sunday, she’ll play the Super Bowl LVII halftime show in front of hundreds of tens of thousands of people and the millions watching at home. While she does it, Olivas and the Sun Bowl committee will always get to say they got her to perform first.
“The whole world watches the Super Bowl. It’s great to be able to say we had her here. We’ve been saying, ‘hey we got her started here,'” Olivas said.
The between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles will kick off Super Bowl LVII at 4:30 p.m. MST on Sunday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
Oregon State won the 2006 Sun Bowl, 39-38.