On February 1, 2004, the now-infamous “Nipplegate” incident occurred at the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show as Janet Jackson performed with Justin Timberlake.
Since then, Timberlake has bore the brunt of anger from many who blame him for not supporting Jackson in the aftermath, which included her reportedly being cut from the Grammys that year along with other professional opportunities.
Here’s a refresher as to what happened: The pair were performing Timberlake’s hit “Rock Your Body,” and at the lyric “Bet I’ll have you naked by the end of this song,” he was to rip Jackson’s top to reveal a red bustier beneath.
Instead, the estimated 100 million+ viewers tuned in along with the Super Bowl attendees saw a flash of Jackson’s bare breast with what appeared to be a nipple piercing. She quickly moved to cover herself, but the damage was already done.
The fallout was instant, and stunning. The pair of pop stars were accused of staging the whole thing for publicity – something both Jackson and Timberlake have denied – and Jackson was initially mocked by everyone from comedians to some fans.
For years #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay trended every Super Bowl Sunday, driven by her supporters who were seeking “Justice for Janet.”