Recession? What recession? It’s Superbowl time! A time when America comes together for one of the biggest corporate sporting events in the world. Each year the Superbowl is watched by millions off Americans, 111 million by last year’s count, making it the most viewed television broadcast of any kind in U.S. history.

The broadcast is perhaps better known around the world however for halftime entertainment and the advertisements that run during the breaks in the most expensive advertising slots in the world worth an estimated $3.5 million for a 30-second spot.

The halftime entertainment made headlines internationally a few years back when Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson performed a duet that featured the infamous ‘wardrobe malfunction’, and since then broadcasters have been decidedly more conservative with their choices including The Who, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, and Paul McCartney.

It’s a list Australian sporting fans can only dream of, although admittedly The Who did perform at the Grand Prix a few years back. Instead we got Meatloaf at our biggest sporting event, the AFL Grand Final, a performance that has provided excellent fodder for Australian media ever since.

This year after the success of last year’s show featuring the Black Eyed Peas, organisers opted for the controversial-in-the-80s option and booked Madonna to perform a medley along with some more contemporary performers such as Nicki Minaj, M.I.A., LMFAO, and Cee Lo Green.

The setlist kicked off with Madonna classic ‘Vogue’ before segueing into a medley including her classic Like A Prayer as well as her new single ‘Give Me All Tour Luvin’ off her forthcoming twelfth studio LP MDNA. The single features vocals by Nicki Minaj and M.I.A, but it was M.I.A. who has caught the attention of the American public and has threatened to overshadow the rest of the show.

American news media whipped into overdrive immediately after the broadcast after it was pointed out that M.I.A. not only ‘flipped the bird’ at the camera but shouted out expletives during her solo. Even more amusing is that despite a delay put on the broadcast after the ‘wardrobe malfunction’ incident, NBC were unable to react in time which can be seen when the screen blurs one second too late.

“We apologize for the inappropriate gesture that aired during halftime,” NBC spokesman Christopher McCloskey said. “It was a spontaneous gesture that our delay system caught late. The NFL hired the talent and produced the halftime show. Our system was late to obscure the inappropriate gesture and we apologize to our viewers.”

The NFL is reportedly furious at the British singer with spokesperson Brian McCarthy telling reporters that the singer M.I.A. did not do anything similar during rehearsals and the league had no reason to believe she would pull something like that during the actual show.  “The obscene gesture in the performance was completely inappropriate, very disappointing, and we apologize to our fans,” McCarthy said.

So what do you think? Watch the broadcast of the show below and let us know what you think. M.I.A’s ‘hand gesture malfunction’ occurs around 8:17 in to the video. Also check out our slideshow of the worst halftime performances in sporting history.

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