Madonna
© REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk
Madonna performs on stage during her MDNA tour at St. Petersburg Sports and Concert Complex
Singer Madonna has boasted about an unpaid "one million dollar fine," which she says the Russian government slapped her with for speaking in favor of gay rights at a concert. The only problem is, the story is completely false.

"I made this speech in St. Petersburg eight years ago," the musician posted to her social media this week. Included was footage from the 2012 concert where she says "gay people, here and around the world" deserve the "same rights" as everyone else.

"I was fined one million dollars by The government for supporting the Gay community. I never paid," she proudly wrote in her post.

While numerous mainstream media outlets have reported Madonna's claim without pushing back against it in any real way, there are huge errors in her story.

The musician did perform in St. Petersburg in 2012, but she was not fined anything by the government. In reality, two groups, People's Cathedral and Trade Union of Russian Citizens, attempted to sue the singer for promoting homosexuality and pedophilia to youths. They tried to invoke the controversial gay propaganda law, which was passed a year after Madonna's concert.

However, the lawsuits were denied and never proceeded. The judiciary confirmed that much to the media on Tuesday, after Madonna's claim made headlines.

In fact, the hearing, documented in Russian media, was a total failure for the plaintiffs, who were repeatedly ridiculed by the judge and in the end were ordered to cover the court costs of the defendants. Their demand that the concert promoters pay damages for not having had control over the singer or not explicitly saying minors could not attend the event was deemed to be unfounded, and the subsequent appeals went nowhere.

The one-million-dollar figure that Madonna cited appears to have no real basis either, as the settlement being sought originally was 333 million rubles - amounting to approximately $9.9 million in 2012.

While a simple fact-check in Google could upend the story, Madonna's words were still reprinted by mainstream media outlets without any significant follow-up.

NBC News merely claimed they reached out to the US Embassy in Moscow, but had not heard back about the fine.

Others did not even go that far, instead taking the singer at her word.

What makes the coverage look worse is that even US media outlets reported on the lawsuit being thrown out at the time that decision was made.

Madonna is no stranger to controversy. She's caused outrage in the US for publicly fantasizing about blowing up the White House following Donald Trump's presidential victory in 2016, and even referred to the coronavirus pandemic as "the great equalizer" in a bizarre video posted to her social media of her crying naked in a bathtub.

You can watch the video here.