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Stephen A. Smith issued an apology to pop singer Rihanna for comparing her to entertainer Beyonce Knowles Carter.

The ESPN personality insulted the 34-year-old Barbadian singer during his appearance on “The Sherri Show” that aired on Wednesday, Jan. 18, on FOX.

“Rihanna’s music is fantastic,” he told Sherri Shepherd. “She’s great. She’s a sister. I love her dearly, I listen to her music, I’m gonna support her ’til the cows come home.”

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“I’m just telling you, for me, there’s Beyoncé and there’s everybody else. Just like there’s Michael Jackson and there’s everybody else,” he said.

He continued: “Ladies and gentlemen, [Rihanna is] a lot of things. She’s spectacular actually and congratulations on new mamahood. There’s one thing she’s not — she ain’t Beyoncé.”

Smith issued an apology after he learned his carefully cultivated image was being trashed by Rihanna’s #Navy on social media on Wednesday.

“I just got out of ‘First Take’ and I saw some headline that’s circulating all over the place about my quote that Rihanna ain’t Beyoncé,” he said in an Instagram video post. “See, I’m gonna own it. I know what y’all tryna do but I’m gon’ own it because I get paid to speak for a living so I need to be more careful.”

He continued: “I want Rihanna to know — you’re a superstar. You’re sensational. You’re spectacular. You’re no joke. And you are a worthy person to be doing the Super Bowl halftime show. Having said all of that, I was answering a question from Sherri Shepherd who took over the Wendy Williams Show and now got her own thing going and I’m very proud of her. And she asked me with a bunch of sisters in the audience what she asked me.”

He again praised Beyonce, who turns 42 this year, by calling her a “phenomenal performer” – but not necessarily a phenomenal singer.

“Now I’m a Beyoncé fan. I think that Beyoncé is not only a phenomenal performer, THE phenomenal performer. And the only reason any kind of comparison came into play is because Beyoncé performed at halftime at the Super Bowl not just by herself but one separate Super Bowl performance with Bruno Mars and Coldplay. And I thought those were two of the greatest shows that I’ve ever seen.”

He concluded by saying:

“I just think that Beyoncé is the greatest performer out there today. That’s me! That doesn’t mean I’m hating on anybody else. That doesn’t mean I’m damn sure wishing for Rihanna to fail. I don’t believe she’s gonna fail. She’s gonna be great! I’m just saying that I’m a Beyoncé fan. That’s all. That’s it.”

He captioned the video: “Apologies to Rihanna for my words, gotta be more careful!”

Watch Rihanna’s Super Bowl trailer below.