What were you doing the evening of Feb. 26, 2017? I was at home and I wasn’t watching the Academy Awards. I was probably watching the Chicago Blackhawks game that night, when the team was actually good.
But I remember seeing on my Twitter feed later that night people talking about the huge mistake made during the Oscars’s Best Picture award—La La Land was mistakenly announced as the winner when the Oscar should have gone to Moonlight. The mistake was corrected but what an embarrassing moment for all involved. Then people on Twitter started pointing fingers at PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm that has overseen the counting of the Oscars ballots for 83 years, for giving the Best Picture award presenters, Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, the wrong envelope.
I was working for AccountingWEB at the time, and I had seen before on Going Concern (AWEB and GC used to be sister sites) articles about PwC being the outfit that tabulated votes for the Oscars. Ooops. Sucks for PwC, but at that time I really didn’t care much about what had happened. AWEB didn’t really cover accounting news (or news of Big 4 firms screwing up major TV award shows) that much, so I knew I wouldn’t have to write anything about the mess PwC caused.
But over at Going Concern, Caleb and Adrienne had a field day in the aftermath of the PwC Oscars debacle. ICYMI at the time, here’s just some of the coverage Going Concern gave #envelopegate in the days, weeks, months, and even a year after it happened:
- And the Award For Worst Oscars Gaffe Goes To… PwC (Feb. 27, 2017)
- Here Are Some of the Best Tweets Roasting PwC for #EnvelopeGate (Feb. 27, 2017)
- PwC’s Recruiting Will Take a Hit Over the Oscars Debacle (March 1, 2017)
- PwC Keeps the Oscars Gig (March 29, 2017)
- Talking About Race, Mega Lawsuits, That Oscars Screw-up and More: A Conversation With PwC’s Tim Ryan (June 27, 2017)
- PwC Not Talking Up Its Role in the Academy Awards This Year, Obviously (Feb. 1, 2018)
- #Envelopegate Redux: PwC Failed to Predict the Worst-Case Scenario (March 1, 2018)
Greg Kyte even drew a cartoon mocking PwC and now ex-partner and “ballot leader” Brian Cullinan, whose head you can see the back of just right of center in the gif above as he’s panic peeing in his tux on stage. Behind him is fellow PwC partner and ballot counter Martha Ruiz (you can see a flash of the red dress she wore that night and the top of her head in the gif).
But despite being the butt of A LOT of jokes after the incident happened, five years later PwC is still counting Oscars ballots, making money hand over fist,
brainwashing recruiting gullible accounting students to come work for them, and is considered by many as the most prestigious of the Big 4. And Tim Ryan survived that whole mess and is still sitting on the chairman’s throne. In short, everything is fine at PwC.
Those of you who worked at PwC five years ago, were you watching the Oscars that night? If you weren’t, how did you find out about the colossal screw-up? What were you thinking at that time? Feel free to flood the comment section with your remembrances of that night or get in touch with us using the contact info below.