What Happened Between Megan Thee Stallion And Justin Timberlake At The 2023 VMAs?

Update: We might have a better idea of what went down between Justin Timberlake and Megan Thee Stallion backstage at the 2023 VMAs, courtesy of Entertainment Tonight. Sources told the outlet that Timberlake was excited to meet Megan and said as much, but that she insisted that “this don’t count, we gotta meet proper” — which is in line with the less messy narrative that cooler heads presented on Twitter. It’s still a secondhand story, so take it with a grain of salt, but it sounds like it might have a happy ending.

The 2023 VMAs have already had a fair degree of potential controversy just an hour into the show. During Olivia Rodrigo’s performance, a burning palm tree had fans worried that it wasn’t a planned part of the set, then, just before Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion hit the stage to perform “Bongos,” Meg appeared to exchange words with Justin Timberlake as NSYNC returned backstage after presenting an award to Taylor Swift.

Fans observing the moment on Twitter appeared to be divided about the interpretation. Meg, who was getting last-minute touch-ups from her hairstylist, looked agitated by something Timberlake may have said as he passed. While he was smiling, she pointed at him and gave a forceful response. But to some fans, it looked like her end of the conversation was simply her repeating “that doesn’t count,” which they interpreted as a possible response to the bait-and-switch of NYSNC’s rumored “reunion” — she certainly wouldn’t be alone in expecting them to play a song. Even Swift wondered, “You guys are gonna do something, right?”

Of course, without the audio, all this is speculation, but I’m inclined to believe the latter explanation. Meg is certainly in the demographic that grew up on NSYNC’s music, so she’d be justified (heh) in being just a little annoyed by the letdown… but hey, their “reunion” tonight seems like the perfect setup for their eventual song from the upcoming Trolls movie, Band Together, which plays off the group’s mid-aughties breakup. If the speculation gets too out of hand, I’m sure they’ll all have plenty of time to dispel the rumors on the press tour for the movie.

Megan Thee Stallion is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.