Jay Z and Beyoncé nearly called it quits in 2004 when rumors circulated that the rapper and Rihanna were having an affair.
Now, more than 10 years later, Jay Z and Beyoncé could have the last laugh as the man who spread the rumors, former Rihanna publicist Jonathan Hay, came forward and admitted to being the source, the New York Daily News reported.
The story came to light when Randy Taraborrelli, the author of Becoming Beyoncé: The Untold Story, researched Jay Z and Beyoncé for the upcoming, unauthorized book. Taraborrelli detailed the process Hay used to spread the rumors about the alleged affair in his book.
According to Taraborrelli, Hay concocted the story about Jay Z and Rihanna to boost publicity for the female singer’s first single, “Pon de Replay.” The rumor created such a rift between Jay Z and Beyoncé that the singers split for a year-long period, according to the new book.
Hay owned up to the claims in an email he sent to the newspaper. “I apologized to [Beyoncé]… this whole thing is very awkward,” Hay wrote.
“The pr stunt that I did was out of desperation to help break ‘Pon de Replay.’ It was reckless and I didn’t think it was going to work. I was just throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what would stick.”
After seeing the cover of the new book graced by Beyoncé, Hay realized the significance of the misdeed.
“I didn’t think it would be this big story. But now, seeing Beyoncé on the cover of this book and knowing that people are profiting from speculations and opinions about her really turns my stomach. I’m ashamed that I’m even talking about this. I just want to put this rumor to rest once and for all.”
The affair could have been damaging to Jay Z in more ways than one. At the time, Rihanna was a 17-year-old up-and-coming singer under Def Jam. “Dude, she’s a minor,” Jay Z supposedly said about the rumors according to the Beyoncé expose.
While the affair story may be in the past, the final chapter in this saga can still be written by Jay Z and Beyoncé. The powerful married moguls are in charge of the music streaming service Tidal. While Jay Z and Beyoncé could decide to pull Hay’s music and label from Tidal, no announcement on such a move has been made yet.
For his part, Hay is hoping that both Jay Z and Beyoncé are forgiving and allow him to continue to use their platform, he wrote in the email.
“I was blindsided by the news of ‘Becoming Beyoncé’ coming out and it couldn’t come at a worse time for me. I’m currently releasing projects with my label Urban Hitchcock through Tidal, a company that is owned by Jay Z and Beyoncé… Hopefully this news hasn’t ruined that relationship for me.”
Although Jay Z and Beyoncé have not publicly commented on the situation, the rumors about the affair continued through 2014 and were supposedly the reason for the Solange attack on Jay Z in an elevator at the Met Gala in May, Vibe reported.
Despite the drama, Jay Z and Beyoncé have continued to grow their musical empire. To show appreciation to their fans and to support their charity, the couple hosted a concert at the Barclays Center last week. The event raised more than $1.5 million and featured the Carters with other affiliated artists — Lil Wayne, Usher and Nicki Minaj — performing for the sold-out concert, the New York Times reported.
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[Photos by Kevin Winter & Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]