While Beatty said on stage that the envelope contained the winner for Best Actress, which went to “La La Land” star Emma Stone, the actress herself seemed puzzled by that explanation.
“I also was holding my Best Actress in a Leading Role card that entire time,” Emma Stone said backstage. “I don’t mean to start stuff.”
PwC, the accounting firm which counts the Oscar ballots and has control of the winning envelopes, issued a statement late Sunday night accepting responsibility for giving the wrong envelope to presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.
“The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected,” the statement read. “We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.”
Oscar insiders note that there are two reps from PwC (f.k.a. PricewaterhouseCoopers) backstage, one stationed on either side of the stage. Each has a complete set of envelopes. They’ve also memorized the winners and have instructions to immediately stop the show if an incorrect winner is announced.
Most presenters enter from stage right, and get their envelope from a stack on that side of the stage. But there’s another stack on stage left, where only a couple of people typically enter during each show.
It’s possible that Warren Beatty was given the Best Actress envelope by mistake from the side of the stage that hadn’t given presenter Leonardo DiCaprio his Best Actress envelope — the one Stone said she still had in her possession backstage.
In any case, PwC seemed appropriately contrite in the wake of the epic screw-up. “We sincerely apologize to ‘Moonlight,’ ‘La La Land,’ Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error,” the firm’s statement read.
Re-watch the entire incident here: