For pop-culture junkies, the Super Bowl halftime performance is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year. But there was some controversy going into the Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show performance at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, headlined for the first time by Maroon 5, and joined by Travis Scott and Atlanta’s own Big Boi.
The controversy swirled not around any of those real-life stars, but around a beloved cartoon character: SpongeBob SquarePants. Yes, you read that right.
Over 1.2 million fans of the sponge “who lives in a pineapple under the sea” signed a Change.org petition asking both the NFL and Maroon 5 late to honor Stephen Hillenburg—the creator of the cartoon who passed away in November—by including the show’s 2001 song, “Sweet Victory,” into the show.
While those fans didn’t get to hear Sweet Victory played during the Super Bowl III Halftime Show, they did get a 5-second clip of Spongebob and his “friend,” Squidward, displayed on the in-stadium mega screen and on TV. The clip served as the intro to Travis Scott’s performance of hit song “Sicko Mode.”
Needless to say, Spongebob fans wanted more:
But still, Spongebob has taken his place in halftime show lore, brief as it was.