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

02.27.17 12 Comments

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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.

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