It isn’t clear if Kanye West throwing the mic and walking off stage at the Pan Am Games was planned, but taxpayers aren’t footing the bill for his performance.
Pan Am Games CEO Saad Rafi said performance fees for West and two other artists — Canadian crooner Serena Ryder and Miami rapper Pitbull – were sponsored by the concert promotion company, Live Nation.
“That was part of the relationship with Live Nation, that we weren’t paying performance fees to artists that they would secure,” he told The Canadian Press. “I don’t know whether they pay full price or not, but it’s part of their sponsorship with us and their contract with the artists.”
There was much objection to West performing as the headliner for the ceremony – several thousand people actually petitioned against him and urged organizers to replace him with a Canadian entertainer.
People didn’t believe that it would be tax dollars well spent on an American – and often times – controversial artist.
Still, West received overwhelming support at Sunday’s event, but were confused when he tossed an apparently faulty microphone up in the air and stormed off stage.
“Did Kanye West just throw the mic in the audience and walk off the stage unceremoniously!?! #PanAmGames #closingceremony,” one person wrote on Twitter.
“So Kanye West just throws the mic and leaves. I guess they only paid him till 10pm. #PanAmGames #closingceremony #RogersCentre,” another tweeted.
Rafi said West is known to do the unexpected and “we may never know” whether his departure was staged.
“The volume that he performs at is so high, it might have been what affected the sound system, but it also might be something his team planned all along, so you just never know because he’s such a creative guy,” Rafi said. “It’s his team that controls his whole part of that show — the lights, etc..”
Rafi added that he hadn’t heard any complaints from West’s camp since the show.
Nearly 40,000 spectators packed Toronto’s Rogers Centre for the closing ceremony.