Kanye West Was the Biggest Loser of This Year's Super Bowl

While all eyes were on Rihanna as she made a triumphant return to the stage during Sunday's Super Bowl Halftime Show, Kanye West became a major talking point on social media—despite being nowhere to be seen.

Rihanna, 34, entertained viewers with a medley of her biggest hits—including "Umbrella," "Work," "Diamonds," "Only Girl (In the World)" and "We Found Love"—as she performed at Glendale, Arizona's State Farm Stadium.

This spurred anticipation that the Barbados-born singer would be joined onstage by beleaguered rapper West, 45, as she performed their 2010 collaboration "All of the Lights." Neither West nor Jay-Z (who was present at the event) joined Rihanna when she belted out the trio's track "Run This Town."

Kanye West misses Rihanna's Super Bowl performance
Kanye West is pictured left on November 6, 2019 in New York City. Rihanna is pictured inset at the Super Bowl Halftime Show on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona. West not being present for Rihanna's performance on Sunday has become a talking point on Twitter. Mark Sagliocco/WireImage;/Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Instead, Rihanna's most-noteworthy guest on the stage ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs winning 38-35 over the Philadelphia Eagles was her baby bump. The star revealed that she is expecting her second child after she and partner A$AP Rocky welcomed their son in May 2022.

It is, perhaps, not the biggest shock that Rihanna opted to perform without West by her side. The rapper, who has changed his name to Ye, has faced criticism following his series of antisemitic comments and controversial behavior late in 2022.

West's absence from the show caught the attention of Twitter users. They took to the social-media platform in droves to share memes depicting the musician and fashion designer as emotional on missing out.

Sharing an image of Hassan Johnson's character holding a bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag in the 1998 movie Belly, social-media personality Josiah Johnson wrote: "Kanye watching Rihanna sing 'All of the Lights' at the Super Bowl."

Another Twitter user posted a brief video of a man leaping toward his large TV screen. The caption read that it was West's reaction once he saw that Rihanna was performing "All of the Lights" without him.

Another Twitter user posted a meme of a man trying to push his way into another man's property as the door was abruptly closed on him. "Kanye trying to Rihanna's Super Bowl Halftime Show," read an accompanying caption.

Meanwhile, a number of other viewers pointed out the similarities in ensemble and stage setting between Rihanna and when West was promoting his Donda album in 2021. They took the resemblances as Rihanna silently supporting West from afar.

"We all know that the Super Bowl Performance by Rihanna was her endorsement for Kanye West and giving support to Kanye West in everything he is going through," wrote one Twitter user. "I hope Kanye is doing well[.] Thanks Rihanna."

West's recent controversies include a December 1 appearance on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' show InfoWars, alongside documented white nationalist and antisemite Nick Fuentes.

Wearing a full face mask, West said that Hitler invented microphones and highways, praised the rule of the genocidal Nazi dictator, and denigrated Jewish people and Israel.

He added that he "liked" Hitler and said that nobody knew the meaning of antisemitism until he started sharing conspiracy theories about the Jewish race in 2022.

"They did good things, too," West said. "We've got to stop dissing the Nazis all the time."

Jones—who has said a "Jewish mafia" controls the planet and alluded to the "one world government" conspiracy theory often espoused by antisemitic groups—occasionally interceded, saying, "We don't like Nazis."

Rihanna and Kanye West
Kanye West and Rihanna are pictured performing together on January 31, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The rapper was conspicuous by his absence at her halftime show during the Super Bowl on Sunday in the same city. Christopher Polk/Getty Images for DirecTV

West's interview came after he made a string of antisemitic comments both on social media and in interviews in October and November. His actions led to him losing a number of lucrative business deals, including those with Adidas and Balenciaga.

Balenciaga has faced a major image problem of its own, over pictures shown on its website in 2022 that included toddlers holding the company's teddy-bear handbags. The stuffed toys appeared to be dressed in bondage gear, including fishnet shirts and studded leather harnesses and collars.

A number of public figures spoke out against the images. West's ex-wife Kim Kardashian, who is a Balenciaga brand ambassador, said that she was "disgusted" and "shaken" by the images and was "re-evaluating" her relationship with the company.

Balenciaga apologized for the campaign and pulled the images, which some on social media had described as "child porn."

After previously criticizing celebrities for not speaking out on the Balenciaga scandal, West defended the fashion brand in tweets posted before his Twitter account was permanently suspended in December amid the antisemitism scandal.

"I stand by Balenciaga and denounce all witch hunts and I cancel cancel culture. Jesus is King. Ending trafficking doesn't start or end with a fashion campaign for Christ Sake," the rapper wrote in archived tweets seen by Newsweek.

"Never turn our backs [on] Demna [Balenciaga's creative director] and the Balenciaga family for life," he said in a follow-up tweet that featured a photo of himself dressed in a bulky black ensemble. "Cancel cancel culture. Jesus please heal."

West also posted what appeared to be a text-message exchange with the creative director Demna Gvasalia, with whom he has collaborated on a number of projects over the years.

The screenshot purported to show Gvasalia asking West to help "stop Demna hate," prompting the musician to respond: "Love cures everything, Love Demna."

"God loves Balenciaga," West later tweeted. "Love is the answer, Jesus is the answer. Praying for all of the innocent artist and beautiful humans who make clothing that had nothing to do with the [ad campaign]. People's grandmothers work [there] for Christ sake."

West's tweets stood in contrast to comments he made at the height of the backlash against Balenciaga in November, when he said "all celebrities are controlled."

"You don't see no celebrities talking about the Balenciaga situation, right?" West told photographers in Los Angeles. "So that just shows you: All of these celebrities out here—don't let them influence you in any way, because they're controlled by the people who really influence the world."

It was recently reported that West quietly wed Australian architect Bianca Censori, who works at his apparel brand Yeezy, though they are yet to file a marriage certificate.