Janet Jackson Relives Super Bowl Scandal

The star broke her years-long silence on the infamous 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.

It's been over 15 years since Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake's infamous 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, and the pop icon is finally breaking her silence to speak her truth.

In the singer's four-part documentary from Lifetime and A+E, Janet Jackson, the 55-year-old looks back at her life and career to open up about her past, including her rocky marriage to James DeBarge, her complex relationship with her father, Joe, and even her estranged relationship with her late brother, Michael. She also takes the time to address the long-standing scandal that shook the country and shaped pop culture for decades to follow -- the AOL TopSpeed Super Bowl XXXVIII Halftime Show.

Although the notorious incident lasted seconds, when the former '*NSYNC frontman briefly exposed Janet's breast to millions of viewers, it completely changed the trajectory of her career, while his rise in stardom never faltered.

The conversation surrounding the controversy began in 2018 while Janet is speaking to her brother Randy. When Randy alerts her that Justin’s team has reached out to inquire about her joining him onstage during the Super Bowl LII Halftime Show, the singer explained why she would decline.  

“Not really,” she told her brother in the moment. “And we have history with CBS. When I think about it, would it be nice to be able to perform, yes? You know our family, we love entertaining. But on the flip side of it, it’s dredging up the past, reliving something that happened over 10 years ago.”  

Janet revealed that she was the first member of their family to become close with Timberlake, after *NSYNC opened for her on tour. After the Super Bowl performance, Janet shared that in the mist of the backlash, Timberlake reached out and wanted to make a statement.  

“We talked, once,” she told Randy. “And he said, ‘I don’t know if I should come out and make a statement. I have something to say.’ And I said, ‘Listen, I don’t want any drama for you. They're aiming all of this at me. So, if I was you, I wouldn’t say anything.’”  

The "Control" singer shared that the incident had an impact on her family as well. “A lot of it I didn’t see, but I couldn’t get away from it,” she told Randy. “People wishing ill of you. Coming up to my brothers and saying things. Wishing I would be put away.” 

“It can take its toll on you emotionally. So, I just stay focused on my work. Stay close to friends. Stay in touch with family and that was enough for me to pull through,” she continued. “When you have everyone whispering about you and the majority of it is not favorable, that could pull you to a different place.” 

In February 2021, the Man of the Woods artist released a public apology to Janet and Britney Spears, after receiving backlash following the premiere of The New York Times Presents' explosive project, Framing Britney Spears. Throughout the unauthorized project, the footage shows Britney being put in the hot seat and questioned about her role in their highly publicized breakup, while Timberlake was seemingly idolized. 

In his public apology -- which was directed toward both Jackson and Spears -- Timberlake shared, "I am deeply sorry for the times in my life where my actions contributed to the problem, where I spoke out of turn, or did not speak up for what was right. I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism."

"I specifically want to apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually, because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed," he wrote. "I also feel compelled to respond, in part, because everyone involved deserves better and most importantly, because this is a larger conversation that I wholeheartedly want to be part of and grow from."

Janet never publicly responded to the singer's apology, but the R&B icon did thank her fans for making her 1986 album, Control, top the charts again in response. 

"I was at home just the other day by myself and I began to cry. I was crying because I was so thankful for all that God has blessed me with," she said. "All that he has given me and I'm so thankful for him being in my life, and I'm so thankful for all of you being in my life."

Her brothers, Marlon, Tito and Jackie, addressed the pop star's mea culpa during an episode of SiriusXM's Radio Andy in May. 

Addressing the post, Marlon told Andy Cohen, "You know, it takes a man to step up and do that, so we do thank him for doing that."

"But we'd like to move forward because that was out there, the negativity about it," Marlon continued. "But, as they say in the old days, as long as they're talking about you, good or bad, you're still in the public's eye."

"We thank you, Justin, for what you did," Marlon added.

Jackie added that it was "nice he did something like that, because it kind of hurt Janet in the past. So for him to step up and say that, it means a whole lot."

While many fans have long begged to understand who should be held accountable for the nipple-slip, Janet is only interested in putting the past behind her.

“Honestly, this whole thing was blown way out of proportion,” Janet said in a video recorded in 2022. "Of course, it was an accident that should not have happened, but everyone is looking for someone to blame and that’s gotta stop. Justin and I are very good friends, and we will always be very good friends. We spoke just a few days ago and he and I have moved on and it’s time for everyone else to do the same.”  

Janet Jackson aired on Friday, Jan. 28, and Saturday, Jan. 29 on Lifetime and A&E.