For all the pomp and excess of Madonna's Super Bowl halftime extravaganza a single extended middle finger by guest singer M.I.A. is likely to be the most remembered piece of the show.
The gesture, accompanied by a barely disguised expletive, came during a performance of Madonna's new single, "Give Me All Your Luvin."' At the end of her lines, M.I.A. appeared to sing "I don't give a (expletive)," although it was hard to hear clearly.
The incident was reminiscent of Janet Jackson's infamous "wardrobe malfunction" eight years ago - a surprise risque moment in front of tens of millions of unsuspecting viewers. The brief exposure of Jackson's nipple during the 2004 halftime show raised a storm of controversy and put CBS in hot water with the Federal Communications Commission.
The Super Bowl, shown on NBC this year, is routinely viewed by more than 100 million people, the biggest TV event of the year.
"We apologize for the inappropriate gesture that aired during halftime," NBC spokesman Christopher McCloskey said. "It was a spontaneous gesture that our delay system caught late."
The screen briefly went blurred after M.I.A.'s gesture in what was a late attempt -- by less than a second -- to cut out the camera shot. The NFL, which produces the show, had no immediate comment.
The British singer M.I.A. is best known for her 2007 hit "Paper Planes," a Grammy nominee for record of the year that memorably features a sample of the Clash song, "Straight to Hell." It was featured on the soundtrack to the movie "Slumdog Millionaire."