Taylor Swift wasn't the only one to shed a tear or two after Kanye West interrupted her acceptance speech for Best Female Video at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards to argue that Beyoncé should have won the award — Beyoncé herself was also brought to tears backstage after the shocking incident.
"Yo, Taylor. I'm really happy for you. I'mma let you finish. But Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time! One of the best videos of all time!" West said, arguing that Beyoncé's video "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" should have beaten out Swift's "You Belong With Me."
Van Toffler, the former president of Viacom Media Networks and Logo Group, said during Billboard's oral history of the moment that afterward, he walked backstage to urge Scott Borchetta, founder of Big Machine Label Group, which was Swift's label at the time, to convince her to stay — which is when he saw Beyoncé and her father, Mathew Knowles, crying.
"I walk behind the stage — and sure enough there is Beyoncé and her dad, and she is crying," he said. "She was like, 'I didn’t know this was going to happen, I feel so bad for her.'"
Toffler said he asked Beyoncé if she'd be open to the idea of sharing her win for Video of the Year — which she would win later that night — with Swift. In an unprecedented move, he spoiled the results for the "Lemonade" singer, who agreed to split her time on stage with Swift.
"I think perhaps for the only time in history at the VMAs — we knew who was going to win the awards, we had a plan for it [but did not tell the artists ahead of time]," Toffler said. "At some point, I let her know that she was probably going to be up on the podium at the end of the show for an award. And wouldn’t it be nice to have Taylor come up and have her moment then?"
"I had to indicate to her that she needed to stay, and perhaps this is a way to have this come full circle and let [Taylor] have her moment. I would normally not say anything, but I had two crying artists," he continued.
James Montgomery, a former senior correspondent for MTV News, also told Billboard that Pink was among the many stars who scolded West to his face that night.
"During the commercial break, [West] went back down to his seat and Pink walked up to him and got in his face," Montgomery said. "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—ed up this was and then stormed off."
"Then he was sitting there next to Amber Rose with his arm around her, and you could feel everyone in Radio City glaring at his back," the reporter continued, adding that Pink was "giving Kanye the middle finger."
The next year, Swift returned to perform her song "Innocent," which many believe to be about West and how she forgave him for the ambush. In 2016, West and Swift reignited their feud after he released his song "Famous," which contains the lyrics: "I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex. Why? I made that b— famous."0comments
West claimed that Swift had previously approved the song's lyrics, which she denied. However, West's wife, Kim Kardashian, posted a Snapchat video in July 2016 of Swift seemingly listening to some of the lyrics from "Famous" before its release. After that, Swift took to her Instagram to accuse the couple of "character assassination."
"Being falsely painted as a liar when I was never given the full story or played any part of the song is character assassination," she wrote at the time. "I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative, one that I have never asked to be a part of, since 2009."