The performers who are established enough to headline Super Bowl halftime shows typically make six or seven figures off a non-football related performance. On the first Sunday in February, however, that number drops to zero. “We do not pay the artists,” an NFL spokesperson told Forbes in 2016. “We cover expenses and production costs,” which typically range in the millions.
This year’s headliner, Abel Tesfaye (aka The Weeknd), was presumably no exception. And while he would have stood apart regardless, without any of the usual surprise guests, Tesfaye went above and beyond to ensure that “this halftime show be what he envisioned”: According to his manager, Wassim Slaiby, he spent $7 million of his own money on the roughly 13-minute performance in addition to the money supplied to him by the NFL.
As for where all that money went, a portion likely compensated the dozens of lookalike joined Tesfaye on the field, matching in a red blazer atop an all-black suit and harking back to the recent era when he heavily bandaged his entire, apparently injured face. Such an ensemble has become Tesfaye’s signature, but this one was custom couture Givenchy, so intricately hand-embroidered with crystals that it took four embroiders around 250 hours to make.
It’s unclear whether or not the $7 million includes the $100,000 per night he’s reportedly been paying to stay in a $9.1 million mansion while in Tampa. In any case, hopefully, the pandemic doesn’t ruin his plans for an upcoming tour. Billboard estimates that the six nearly sold out dates will bring in at least $1.2 million apiece.