SNL opened this week’s episode with a tribute to the victims of Las Vegas and Tom Petty with country superstar Jason Aldean. The country superstar was on stage at Route 91 Festival when shots started to rain down onto the crowd from the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel and casino. His surprise appearance on SNL was a refreshing and emotional way to start the show, ignoring the typical Trump cold open we’ve seen over the past year, but they reportedly weren’t the first to reach out to the artist for an appearance to pay tribute to the victims of the massacre.
UFC president Dana White tells TMZ that he invited Aldean to the UFC 216 event on Saturday night in Las Vegas. White had questioned delaying the event in the wake of the shooting, but it soon became an event to pay respects to the first responders and victims according to ESPN. White told the network that he expected “1,500 first responders from local police, firefighters and EMT departments” at the event alongside “several victims.” This was a selling point on his invitation to Aldean, an offer that was turned down for SNL according to TMZ:
White says Aldean’s people turned down the offer — saying he was shaken up from the shooting and might never perform live again.
White says he stressed that the survivors who would be attending UFC 216 were shot while watching Aldean perform and it would mean a lot to them … and the city of Las Vegas. Still, he declined…
“His image was more important then coming back to Vegas and playing for the people who are his fans and who got shot watching him play,” White says.
“F*ck you Jason Aldean. Stay out of Vegas.”
White also tells TMZ that he reached out to other country music stars to sing the anthem at the event and all of them turned the offer down, with the UFC president adding that “Country music was attacked. Those were country music fans.” Everlast stepped in to perform for those in attendance, singing “America, the Beautiful” while several victims and first responders stood in the ring.
White had been vocal about his feelings towards the shooting before the fight, with the UFC pledging $1 million for the victims — amounting to “roughly $16,000 per family” according to ESPN — and making it clear that this event would be for those affected by the tragedy:
“It might just be me, the media and 1,500 first responders here tomorrow. And I don’t care. This isn’t an event about the gate or about any of that stuff. This is about the families, the victims, Las Vegas, and not bowing down to cowards.”
The comments about Aldean aside, the efforts for the victims and their families should be commended. As for his comments about Aldean and the other country music stars, their response is sure to come in the near future.