How did the Oscars 2017 Best Picture mistake happen?

By now you must have been reading all about the Oscars gaffe. Some people are calling it the Oscars' Steve Harvey Moment. But what really happened the night that La La Land was announced as Best Picture instead of the real winner, Moonlight?

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the accounting firm which handled the Oscars for the past 83 years, apologized nearly three hours after the incident that shocked millions worldwide.

Faye Dunaway mistakenly announces La La Land as Best Picture (Image Credit: EPA)

Here's PwC's statement:

We sincerely apologize to "Moonlight," "La La Land," Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture. The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred.

We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation.

After that statement was posted on the Oscars website, the firm further explained on Monday, what caused the biggest blunder in the history of the Academy Awards.

Tim Ryan, the U.S. Chairman and Senior of PwC told USA Today, that they "made a human error", and nothing more. No conspiracy theories, like what other people have been thinking.

This is how it went down. There are two separate, full sets of 24 envelopes, in two different briefcases. A PwC partner is assigned for each briefcase.

Martha Ruiz and Brian Cullinan of PwC (Image Credit: screen grab from ABC News video)

PwC partners Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz were each assigned a briefcase. They stood on opposite sides of the stage for the entire program. Their job was to hand the respective envelope to the presenter.

Reports indicate that they have done this task for years. Like before, the two of them are also obliged to memorize the list of winners for added security since the list is not written on any online document nor on any paper to prevent leaks, according to Vanity Fair.

What happened during the awards night was that Warren Beatty was given the wrong envelope- the back-up envelope for Emma Stone's Best Actress win.

Emma Stone was already awarded the Best Actress prior to the announcement of the Best Picture Award, that's why the other envelope for Best Actress was already with her.

So who made the mistake?

PwC said it was Cullinan who accidentally handed Warren the wrong envelope, coming from a "backup" pile. Ryan said, "There's a stack for the backups and the ones that are not the backups and he took from the wrong stack."

When Warren opened the envelope, he was confused because Emma Stone's name was printed on it. Beatty showed the card to Faye Dunaway, who then read out "La La Land", which was written below Stone's name.

Producer Jordan Horowitz says "This is not a joke" to Moonlight team as Cullinan looks stunned (Image Credit: screen grab from ABC News video)

Had Warren read what was written on the front side of the red envelope, he would have noticed that "Actress in a Leading Role" was printed in yellow.

Neil Patrick Harris, who hosted the Oscars in 2015, tweeted a close-up of the the envelope that Warren held while he was opening it. Harris seemed to be way ahead of everyone in figuring out what happened when he tweeted "Warren Beatty seems to be opening an envelope that says 'Actress in a Leading Role'. He must have been handed the wrong one somehow. Yikes."

(Image Credit: Neil Patrick Harris @ActuallyNPH Twitter)

PwC's Ryan said in his statement to USA Today, "We made a mistake. What happened was, our partner on the left side of the stage, Brian Cullinan, he handed the wrong envelope to Warren Beatty. And then the second we realized that, we notified the appropriate parties and corrected the mistake."

Horowitz, Beatty, and Jimmy Kimmel, trying to explain to the audience that Moonlight won for Best Picture ((Image Credit: screen grab from ABC News video)

Ryan also added that Cullinan, who was on his fourth year of handling envelopes for the Oscars, feels "very, very terrible and horrible" and upset about the miscue.

Horowitz showing the card for Best Picture, with Cullinan and Ruiz on the left side (Image Credit: screen grab from ABC News video)

Still, the question lingers, why did Cullinan commit a mistake this time?

The Wall Street Journal managed to screengrab a tweet posted by Cullinan, which some are speculating maybe near the time when he was supposed to give Beatty the Best Picture envelope.

(Image Credit: The Wall Street Journal, Brian Cullinan)

The tweet has since been deleted, raising a howl of protest from netizens, who think that Cullinan deleted the "evidence" for the blunder. A lot of comments on his Twitter feed now point out that Cullinan was too busy with the stars and with social media, that he forgot the one job he was supposed to do.

Horowitz and Kimmel, with Cullinan checking the Best Picture envelope in his hand (Image Credit: The Wall Street Journal, Brian Cullinan)

In its latest public apology, PwC seem to find fault with Cullinan and his partner because, "protocols for correcting it were not followed through quickly enough." Still, the firm said they take "full responsibility for the series of mistakes and breaches of established protocols" during the event. PwC pointed out that the Academy has entrusted them "with the integrity of the awards process during the ceremony" for the past 83 years. The statement ended with "last night we failed the Academy".

A lot of commenters are suggesting that Cullinan should be fired from his job, or should at least be taken off the awards process. But some are suggesting that he should come back next year. Like in Steve Harvey's case for the Miss Universe pageant, the gaffe might be a good source of humor for next year's Oscars.

What do you think?
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