NFL wants M.I.A. to pay $16.6M for Super Bowl middle finger flap

M.I.A. performs during the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show on Feb. 5, 2012, in Indianapolis. Christopher Polk/Getty Images

M.I.A. is going on the defense against the NFL.

The National Football League is seeking $16.6 million from the recording artist, for holding up her middle finger during her Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis in 2012.

NFL attorneys originally asked for $1.5 million last fall during arbitration with the performer. They say the new monetary amount is based on the alleged damages inflicted on the league, as well as the exposure M.I.A. received from the performance. The financial figure was determined by the amount of TV commercials which hypothetically could have aired during M.I.A.'s two-minute appearance.

In legal documents obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, the 38-year-old "Bad Girls" singer fired back at the NFL, claiming that she doesn't owe them a dime for her provocative rendition of "Give Me All Your Luvin" alongside Madonna, in front of an audience of 167 million TV households.

"The claim for restitution lacks any basis in law, fact, or logic," according to M.I.A.'s response papers, filed on Friday.

The hip-hop artist told the arbitrator that the "continued pursuit of this proceeding is transparently an exercise by the NFL intended solely to bully and make an example of Respondents for daring to challenge NFL."

M.I.A.'s lawyers have cited multiple past instances of allegedly profane behavior on the part of halftime performers. Her attorneys mentioned Michael Jackson's 1993 crotch-grabbing incident and Prince's 2007 set, where he stroked his guitar in a sexual manner.

Her lawyers even cited co-performer Madonna, mentioning the potential use of underage dancers during their halftime number:

"The Show prominently features scenes of very young women dancers (possibly not even of adult age) poised in reclining positions, with their feet and hands and/or shoulders planted on the ground behind them. The women lewdly thrust their elevated pelvic areas in a manner unmistakably evocative of sexual acts (very probably qualifying as 'indecent' under the FCC definition), or at the very least, in a manner wholly consistent with the scenes a faire in a strip club."

The papers also alluded to the legal and moral transgressions of those within the NFL, and compared the arbitration case in contrast to the league's recently-proposed 15-yard-penalty for use of the N-word on the field.

Ultimately, M.I.A. points the finger at NBC (which broadcasted Super Bowl XLVI) as the party which should be held accountable for the flap.

"NFL, and NBC, failed to exercise ordinary care in the conduct of the Halftime show by not activating the '5 second delay' system in place for the broadcast," M.I.A.'s papers said.

It remains unclear how much the halftime performance actually aided M.I.A.'s career. Her 2013 album, "Matangi," sold far less copies than her pre-Super Bowl release, 2010's "Maya."

Tell us: Do you think M.I.A. should have to pay up?
  • Ken Lombardi On Twitter» On Facebook»

    Ken Lombardi is an entertainment reporter for CBS News. He has interviewed over 300 celebrities, including Clint Eastwood, Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks.

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