Celebs Recall Watching Kanye Ambush Taylor Swift at VMAs 10 Years Later

It was a moment that changed awards shows forever: Taylor Swift, then only three years into her career, stepped on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards in September 2009 to accept Best Female Video for “You Belong With Me.” She had won over industry mainstays Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson and Pink as well as fellow newcomers Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. But just 18 seconds into Swift’s acceptance speech, Kanye West stole the microphone from her hands and took over what was supposed to be her shining moment.

“Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all times! One of the best videos of all time!” the rapper shouted, referencing “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).”

MTV producers then cut the cameras to Beyoncé, whose jaw literally dropped before mouthing, “Oh, Kanye!” The audience inside Radio City Music Hall in New York City booed West, who walked the red carpet with a Hennessy bottle in hand earlier in the night, as he handed the mic back to Swift and walked off stage. Standing in silence, the country singer looked confused and heartbroken about what had just happened. In an attempt to cheer her up, some people in the crowd gave her a standing ovation.

“During the commercial break, [West] went back down to his seat and Pink walked up to him and got in his face,” former MTV News senior correspondent James Montgomery recalled to Billboard earlier this year. “I wasn’t close enough to hear the conversation, but she was pointing in his face and nodding her head back and forth, and giving him her two cents about how f–ked up this was and then stormed off.”

Moments later, Swift returned to the stage to perform “You Belong With Me.”

“I do remember that Taylor was determined to get it right,” VMA director Hamish Hamilton told Billboard. “She really dealt with it with true dignity and professionalism. Maybe after the immediate shock and sadness, she pretty quickly channeled that energy into determination.”

In August 2015, Swift and West came together again on the VMA stage when she presented her “friend” with the Video Vanguard Award.

“So I guess I have to say to all the other winners tonight … I’m really happy for you, and I’mma let you finish, but Kanye West has had one of the best careers of all time,” she joked, making the crowd crack up.

However, just a year later, the Grammy winners’ relationship turned turbulent once again after social media drama involving the Chicago native’s wife, Kim Kardashian.

In honor of the 10th anniversary of West’s infamous ambush, Us Weekly asked celebrities including Jenny McCarthy, Simon Cowell and Terry Crews how they first reacted to the live-TV moment.

Jenny McCarthy

“I wear many different hats when it comes to that. As a TV producer, in my head, I go, ‘This is gonna be great TV!’ As a human being, my heart goes to Taylor. As an artist, I felt for Beyoncé. Because ‘Single Ladies’ was an amazing video. But I also think no one should ever take someone’s moment,” the TV host told Us. “Everyone dreams, in this business, of having that moment when you hold the mic. And if that was your only time up there, can you imagine? Would’ve been robbed. Fortunately, she had a million more. But hopefully people learn from it. That’s how I always look at things. Learn from a moment like that; it didn’t help him in any way, it only helped her. So maybe people will know not to interrupt those precious moments for people.”

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Simon Cowell

“I think live TV should be live TV, you know. Whether it’s good or bad, you always want things you’re going to remember,” the America’s Got Talent judge told Us. “And if you were talking about something in rehearsals, you wouldn’t have seen it. So regardless of which viewpoint you’re on, it’s memorable. I’m always into that.”


Nicole Scherzinger

“It’s hard because Kanye is a friend of mine. I find that he gets misunderstood quite a bit. But I know him personally and he has a heart of gold,” the former Pussycat Doll told Us. “Things can get easily misunderstood or mistranslated. That was very quite clear. But, you know, we’re here to lift one another up and inspire and build.”

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Howie Mandel

“It was wonderfully uncomfortable. I like uncomfortable and real and anything that looks like it’s not [rehearsed]. That’s what I love about [America’s Got Talent],” the comedian told Us. “That’s the kind of thing where you have a visceral reaction, specifically [where] the reaction is like, ‘Oh, my God.’ But to me, that’s really entertaining to watch. … That was real, that was authentic and that was uncomfortable.”


Kristin Cavallari

“I was there. I was like three rows back,” the Laguna Beach alum told Us. “I think my jaw hit the floor. Everyone was just in shock. I don’t think anybody really … I didn’t know what was going on. I think everybody was just kind of confused and blown away. … Taylor was so young. I felt really bad for her at the time. But she’s fine. She’s been OK. Yeah, it worked out.”

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Terry Crews

“I was just like, ‘What is happening?’” the AGT host told Us. “But you gotta understand about the VMAs, every VMAs, it’s hard. … That was a moment no one will ever forget. And to be honest, the rest of the VMAs over the last 10 years you don’t really remember. But the one thing you do remember is that they both blew up after that. Both of them. Kanye and Taylor went to stratospheric levels. So whatever you can say about it, it worked! Did it not work? Oh, my God, that worked!”


Ari Lennox

“I was just like, ‘Oh, my God,’” the singer told Us. “I was shocked, but I understood that. I feel like the world sleeps on Beyoncé, and I don’t know why. She’s, like, one of the best singers ever, one of the best dancers, one of the best entities that ever walked on this Earth. So I understood [West’s] frustration. Maybe he did it in the wrong way, but totally understandable.”

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