How Did Warren Beatty End Up With The Wrong Best Picture Envelope? Some Theories

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Okay, we all know what happened here. Somehow, through an as-yet-unknown chain of events, Warren Beatty walked out on stage carrying the envelope for Best Actress instead of Best Picture, and all hell broke loose. The producers of La La Land took the stage thinking they’d won. They were then informed that they didn’t, and that Moonlight had in fact won. It was wild. Everyone lost their minds, including the celebrities in attendance, based on pictures of the crowd that were snapped in the moment.

It all left the firm responsible for handling the envelopes, Sterling Cooper Draper Pr-… I mean, uh, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, with some explaining to do. Here was the official statement on the mess.

We sincerely apologize to Moonlight, La La Land, Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for best picture. The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.

We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation

Which, fine. Deep regrets are appropriate. But nature abhors a vacuum, and without an official, clear explanation of what happened, people are going to speculate wildly and incorrectly as to how Warren Beatty ended up with the wrong envelope. People like, say, me.

Here’s what I got so far.


Jimmy Kimmel has reached the stage in his pranking career that you kind of can’t not think he maybe possibly had something to do with it. Right? Like, he didn’t. He definitely didn’t. No chance. Even someone so personally dedicated to the concept of pranks wouldn’t secretly swap the envelopes at the last minute like that, especially when they would have to be the public face of the explanation and apology. And if Kimmel was going to prank the world and ruin Warren Beatty’s entire night, wouldn’t he have a better plan than just handing him a Best Actress envelope and hoping he didn’t notice? And what would he even have to gain? It’s not like there was any real upside to it beyond just massive chaos ensuing in its aftermath. Unless… Does he hate Warren Beatty? If so, why? None of this adds up.

Short version: No, Kimmel definitely did not do it. Unless he did. Which he didn’t. Probably.

(He did not do it.)


The nice thing about hackers is that no one knows exactly what they do or how they do it, so you can blame almost anything on them at this point. Like when someone posts an extremely bad tweet, or presses the wrong button and makes an embarrassing DM public, and then tries to cover for it by saying “I was hacked.” Never mind the fact that the envelope is made of paper and the words are written in ink and the envelope probably doesn’t even have WiFi. The Academy could have released a statement this morning that read in its entirety “The Russians hacked the ceremony via the Dark Web” and a solid 30 percent of people would have been like “Putin, now you have gone too far” because no one really knows what the Dark Web is, either.

So this also did not happen. Fun to tell people it did, though.

DiCaprio ruined everything

This one was pretty thoroughly debunked when Emma Stone revealed that she had her Best Actress envelope after all, and we found out there were two envelopes printed up for each category. But for about 30 minutes last night, the prevailing theory was that Leonardo DiCaprio walked off with Emma Stone’s Best Actress envelope after her win, plopped it on the table, and then Warren Beatty picked it up by mistake and took it to the stage. I like this version of events for two reasons:

– It implies DiCaprio flings important documents wherever, just plopping them on a table and walking away, presumably on his way to a chopper that will take him to a private jet that will take him to another chopper that will land on the deck of a yacht off the coast of Ibiza.

– It implies Warren Beatty, who has spent most of his adult life going to awards shows like this, saw an open envelope sitting on a table just off-stage and thought “Yeah, that’s probably the right one.”

I really wish this is what happened.

Warren Beatty grabbed the wrong envelope on purpose because he is diabolical and wants to watch the world burn

Can’t rule it out.

A teen did it

Stay with me here. What if a teen did it? It seems like a prank a teen would do, right? It’s poorly thought out, mean, and carelessly executed, all hallmarks of a teen prank. I picture one hanging around backstage (maybe a nephew of a producer), seeing the envelopes sitting there, and just thinking “I’m gonna switch them lol.” Right there in that moment. His name was probably Chad, and when everyone figures out it was him and asks him why he did it, he’s going to shrug his shoulders and say “I dunno.” I have a very clear image of this in my head. I’m convinced it’s what happened.

Dammit, Chad.