"I want to welcome the world to the first iHeartRadio Music Awards. Now everyone that's here is a who's who, a what's what, the anybody's of all anybody's — except of course for Donald Sterling," he told the crowd after his performance.
"So, with that said, you can take a picture with whoever you want tonight — even Magic Johnson," he said to cheers.
Sterling was banned for life from the NBA and fined $2.5 million Tuesday for making racist comments.
Pitbull performed his songs "Timber" and "Wild Wild Love" with girl group G.R.L. and female background dancers who wore white and gold. The rapper also won best collaboration for the No. 1 hit "Timber" with Kesha.
"I'm nervous being up here with you," Pitbull said, looking to Pharrell, who presented him the award.
Rihanna, who was stuck in traffic, won the night's first award, hip-hop/R&B song of the year, for the anthemic "Pour It Up."
While there are trophies, the performances will be the night's main highlight. Pharrell, Shelton, Kendrick Lamar, Ariana Grande, Shakira, Ed Sheeran and Arcade Fire are also part of the jam-packed lineup, which will include performances from LA venues including the Shrine, the Roxy and the Hotel Cafe.
Usher is also set to perform a cover of a new Michael Jackson song from the singer's posthumous album, "Xscape," out this month.
Rihanna will battle the boys for artist of the year. Nominees include Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Imagine Dragons.
Presenters include Gwen Stefani, Lionel Richie, Selena Gomez and Juanes, while Lady Gaga and Katy Perry made special appearances early in the show in video packages.
Rihanna is also nominated for song of the year. Her slow tune "Stay" will compete with Eminem's "The Monster" — where she's featured — as well as Pitbull and Kesha's "Timber" and "Suit & Tie" and "Holy Grail" from Timberlake and Jay Z, respectively.
Lorde, Imagine Dragons and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis — who all won Grammys in their debut years — will compete for best new artist. Florida Georgia Line, Icona Pop and Passenger are also nominated in the latter category.
Follow Mesfin Fekadu at twitter.com/MusicMesfin
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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