SpongeBob’s road to the Super Bowl began when a fan started a Change.org petition a few months earlier asking the NFL to have the song performed as a way of paying respect to series creator Stephen Hillenburg, who died in November at age 57 following complications from ALS. The petition soon received more than one million signatures.
Ahead of Maroon 5’s appearance on Sunday, the band teased that the animated sponge might be incorporated. SpongeBob appeared briefly in the middle of a trailer for the halftime show.
At the time of Hillenburg’s death, Nickelodeon released a statement saying, “He was a beloved friend and long-time creative partner to everyone at Nickelodeon, and our hearts go out to his entire family. Steve imbued SpongeBob SquarePants with a unique sense of humor and innocence that has brought joy to generations of kids and families everywhere.”
David Bowie, Victoria Beckham and Jon Hamm are among the many celebrities who voiced characters on the show.
Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams and Tom Brady and the New England Patriots is airing live on CBS.
This article originally appeared in PEOPLE.