Even if they weren’t watching, everybody remembers the 2004 Super Bowl halftime controversy featuring Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson. The performance featured the infamous “wardrobe malfunction” that left Jackson’s breast exposed on the broadcast — which was watched live by 143.6 million viewers.
The event caused a ton of backlash — Jackson’s new single was pulled from stations, it caused increased broadcast regulations in the U.S. and conspiracy theories about the stunt being “pre-planned” surfaced on the internet.
While Janet Jackson was forced to write an apology, JT has mostly danced around the controversy for the last 14 years — giving partial apologies for the incident, as his solo career continued to skyrocket. Meanwhile, Timberlake was recently asked to return to the Big Game, performing at halftime of Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4.
Here is everything Timberlake has said about the incident since 2004.
2004 — Access Hollywood
Immediately after the performance, Timberlake was questioned by Access Hollywood, where he made light of the situation and told them, “Hey man, we love giving ya’ll something to talk about.”
2004 — Personal Statement
Coining the now-famous term “wardrobe malfunction,” Timberlake made a public apology for the incident, calling it “regrettable.” “I am sorry if anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime performance at the Super Bowl,” he said.
2004 — Grammy Awards
One week after the incident, Timberlake played off the events after winning a Grammy for his breakup song “Cry Me A River.” He addressed the audience by saying, “I know it’s been a rough week on everybody,” continuing, “What occurred was unintentional, completely regrettable, and I apologize if you guys were offended.”
2006 — MTV
While speaking to John Norris two years later, Timberlake accepted that the blame assigned for the unfortunate incident was unfair, and acknowledged his privilege in the situation as a white male. “If you consider it 50-50, then I probably got 10 percent of the blame,” Timberlake said. “I think America is harsher on women. I think America is unfairly harsh on ethnic people.” The performer went on to say he could have handled the situation better in the immediate aftermath: “If there was something that I could have done in her defense…I would have.”
2017 — NBC
After announcing his performance at the 2018 Super Bowl, Timberlake instead that another “wardrobe malfunction’ would “not happen this time.”
— SNF on NBC (@SNFonNBC) October 23, 2017
2018 — Beats 1
In January, Timberlake sat down with Zane Lowe of Beats 1 to address the incident: “I had my wires crossed, and it’s just something that you have to look back on and go, like, ‘OK, well, you know, you can’t change what’s happened, but you can move forward and learn from it.’” Timberlake added that nothing like that would be happening again at Super Bowl LII.