'There is Beyoncé crying'. What happened after Kanye West stole Taylor Swift's thunder.

There are few popular culture moments that have captured the world’s attention quite like the now-infamous moment Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.

Taylor Swift, then 19-years-old, was bright-eyed and relatively new to fame when Kanye West, an established rapper, stole her microphone as she was mid-speech, accepting her award for ‘Best Female Video’.

She stood still, her stunned expression broadcast worldwide, as Kanye West undermined her accomplishment.

“Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you,” he said, simultaneously stealing her microphone. “I’m going to let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.”

“One of the best videos of all time!” he reiterated.

Watch the now-infamous moment Kanye West stole Taylor Swift’s microphone at the VMAs here. Post continues after video. 

Now, 10 years after the fact and following a well-documented and tumultuous relationship between the two singers, Billboard is providing a new perspective on the moment, talking to journalists and producers who witnessed the scene first-hand.

Here are three facts we never knew from behind-the-scenes of one of the most notorious events in popular culture.

Beyonce and Taylor Swift were both crying back-stage

After Taylor Swift and Kanye West left the stage, Van Toffler, the former president of Viacom Media Networks Music & Logo Group, remembers walking backstage and finding “two crying artists”, Taylor Swift and Beyonce.

“I walk behind the stage – and sure enough there is Beyoncé and her dad, and she is crying. She was like, ‘I didn’t know this was going to happen, I feel so bad for her’,” Toffler recalls to the publications.


He was the one in charge of ‘dealing’ with Taylor, saying the singer was also crying backstage with her mum by her side, just before she was due to perform her single ‘You Belong With Me’.

“I profusely apologised and I said, ‘I’m sorry, we didn’t know. I know you have to perform in the next act and let me think about a way we can make it right for you. We’re dealing with him now and I’m so sorry it ruined your moment.’ I didn’t anticipate I’d have a crying artist and mum to deal with – literally right before she has to go out on Sixth Avenue and stand on a car and sing her song.”

Kanye West’s drinking behaviour

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Kanye West on the red carpet at the 2009 VMAs. Image: Getty.

A number of journalists and producers recall West's "out of character" behaviour on the red carpet, referring specifically to carrying a bottle of Hennessy with him.

"I saw him [Kanye] with that bottle of Hennessy, which surprised me," Whitney-Gayle Benta, the former vice president of talent relations at MTV News told the publication. "I remember being like, 'Are you okay?' Because I knew him very well and it seemed very out of character for him to be on the carpet like that."

She added: "I was like, 'What's up with you?' And he was like, 'I'm here living my best life'."

An MTV journalist also at the event, James Montgomery, recalls a friend telling him before the show: "Man, Kanye is so drunk. Kanye came up to me inside Radio City and gave me his bottle of Hennessy, and he made me take a swig. The dude is so wasted."


"I remember seeing later photos of him with Amber Rose with the bottle in one hand, and a handful of her ass in the other," he says.

There's a reason why producers didn't intervene

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"Guys, this is TV gold!" a producer remembers thinking. Image: Getty.

As the moment went live to air, director of the VMAs in 2009, Hamish Hamilton, recalls being told by a number of people to intervene. But as he tells Billboard, he was never going to do that.

"I remember that moment quite well, because as a director and as a producer, you kind of pray for moments like this - moments of notoriety, moments that we’re talking about 10 years later."

"There was an awful lot of strange energy in the truck, like, 'Oh my God, get him off! Get him off! What is he doing?' A number of people were really nervous and wanted to get him off the stage, but how do you do that? I wasn’t going to send a bunch of people to rugby-tackle him.

He continued: "I turned around in my chair and I said, 'Guys, this is TV gold!'"

The behind-the-scenes insight comes right before the 2019 Video Music Awards are about to happen, on 27 August 2019.