MTV VMAs 10 Years Ago: The Drama You Didn’t See After Kanye West Interrupted Taylor Swift

It’s been 10 years since Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards, held Sept. 13 live in New York at Radio City Music Hall. And it’s a moment that has lived in infamy since.

A quick refresher:

West walked up to the stage while Swift was accepting an award for Best Female Video. “Imma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all-time,” the Adidas collaborator said into the mic after taking it from her hands. (Swift won for her “You Belong With Me” video; West was referring to Bey’s “Single Ladies.”)

Kanye West, Taylor Swift, Singer Kanye West takes the microphone from singer Taylor Swift as she accepts the "Best Female Video" award during the MTV Video Music Awards on in New YorkMTV Video Music Awards Show, New York, USA - 13 Sep 2009
Kanye West taking the mic from Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs.
CREDIT: Jason Decrow/Shutterstock

As ‘Ye rambled on, the cameras panned over to Beyoncé, who was spotted mouthing, “Oh, Kanye.” The incident made so many headlines that then-President Barack Obama commented on it, declaring West “a jacka**”.

Behind the scenes:

A new oral history from Billboard provides more context about what really happened that night.

Other attendees began booing and hissing at West. P!nk gave the “Gold Digger” hitmaker a piece of her mind during the commercial break — screaming at him after he returned to his seat. (He was ushered out of Radio City soon after.)

Swift and her mom both cried backstage after the incident; Bey was also in tears. Swift managed to get through a performance of “You Belong With Me,” but wanted to leave once that was over. In the end, both women agreed to stay thanks to a plan — that Beyoncé give up time for an acceptance speech later in the evening to Swift. Bey ceded the mic to the then-country star after winning Video of the Year.

Beyonce, Taylor Swift, red dress, Beyonce, left, holds her Video of the Year award while Taylor Swift addresses the crowd at the MTV Music Video Awards, in New YorkMTV Video Music Awards Show, New York, USA - 13 Sep 2009
Beyoncé (L) lets Taylor Swift have her moment at the 2009 VMAs.
CREDIT: Jason Decrow/Shutterstock

Almost avoided:

Apparently, the moment that will live down in VMAs history almost never was. West was initially slated to sit around eight rows away from the stage, but was later moved to the front in hopes of getting more men in the shots. But some executives say it might’ve been predicted that things were going to go off the rails when the rapper showed up on the red carpet with a bottle of Hennessy. The Yeezy mogul reportedly passed around the handle to other celebrities in his section, like Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz, who took swigs straight from it.

Kanye West and Amber Rose, henessy, 2009 MTV Video Music Awards Arrivals held at Radio City Music Hall in New York, America - 13 Sep 2009One man stole the show ay this year’s MTV VMAs - for all the wrong reasons.Rapper Kanye West walked onto the stage during 19-year-old singer Taylor Swift's speech after she accepted her award for Best Female Video and grabbed the mic to tell her, the audience and millions of viewers around the world that the prize should have gone to Beyonce Knowles, prompting boos from the audience.West had earlier been seen on the red carpet accompanied by his model girlfriend Amber Rose and a half-empty bottle of Hennessy Cognac - and was later ejected by event organisers.Madonna and Janet Jackson opened the show with a tribute to the late King Of Pop, Michael Jackson.Other guests, winners and performers at the event included Katy Perry, Akon, Alexa Chung, Alicia Keys, Green Day, Amerie, Cassie, Buzz Aldrin, Chace Crawford, Gerard Butler, Jack Black, Jennifer Lopez, Joe Jackson, Nelly Furtado and Russell Brand.
Kanye West and Amber Rose on the red carpet at the 2009 VMAs.
CREDIT: Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock

Want more?

Rihanna’s Flashy VMAs Style Through The Years

MTV Video Music Awards: Memorable Shoes Onstage

A Look Back at Miley Cyrus’ Wildest MTV Video Music Awards Looks

Watch on FN

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content