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Oscars Accountant Who Handed Warren Beatty Wrong Envelope Takes Down Backstage Tweets

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Martha Ruiz and Brian Cullinan. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
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Brian Cullinan, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers (the accounting firm in charge of counting the Oscar votes and handing out the envelopes with the winning names), was likely in good spirits when he tweeted a photo of Emma Stone backstage at the Academy Awards. Stone had just won her Best Actress award. She was smiling. Everyone was smiling. Things were good. And, prior to showing up at the awards, Cullinan had tweeted a photo of the briefcase with the results in them, according to CNN:

Things were going according to plans when...noooo. A few minutes after Cullinan had tweeted that Stone picture, there was trouble on the Oscars main stage when Bonnie and Clyde Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty presented the award for Best Picture to the wrong film.

How does this apply to Cullinan? The New York Times says that it was Cullinan who handed the wrong envelope to Beatty.

He, as well another PwC partner named Martha Ruiz, were part of a small group that tabulated the Oscar votes and then handed the envelopes with the winning names over to the appropriate presenters. Entering the show, they were the only two people who knew the results, according to Forbes. Their job at the ceremony was to stand in the wings and hand out the correct envelope. But, in a series of events still being figured out, Cullinan had apparently handed the envelope for Best Leading Actress to Dunaway and Beatty, rather than the envelope for Best Picture.

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Emma Stone later said that, after she'd won, she had taken her own copy of the Best Leading Actress envelope. So how could it have landed in Beatty's hands? As Cullinan explained to Medium in earlier in February, there was actually another envelope, as there are two for each winner:

"The producers decide what the order of the awards will be. We each have a full set. I have all 24 envelopes in my briefcase; Martha has all 24 in hers. We stand on opposite sides of the stage, right off-screen, for the entire evening, and we each hand the respective envelope to the presenter. It doesn't sound very complicated, but you have to make sure you're giving the presenter the right envelope," he said.

Cullinan could have followed his own advice. And, after the chaos had erupted, he expunged all mentions of the 89th Academy Awards from his Twitter. He took down the Stone picture, as well as the one of the briefcase:

Why did Cullinan go through the trouble of deleting his Tweets? Was it to tamp down any suspicions that he was having too much fun at the Oscars, and as a result had botched his task? At any rate, the people at PwC have apologized for the gaffe, and say it's under investigation:

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[Update 2:22 p.m.]

As reported at Variety, Tim Ryan, PwC’s U.S. chairman and senior partner, chalks it up to old-fashioned "human error."

"We clearly made a mistake and once the mistake was made we corrected it and owned up to it,” said Ryan. He added that he'd spoken with Cullinan about the incident: “He feels very, very terrible and horrible. He is very upset about this mistake. And it is also my mistake, our mistake and we all feel very bad."

According to Variety, Cullinan and Ruiz "realized instantly" that the wrong envelope was handed out when the incorrect movie was announced, and they reported it to the production team. It's unclear, however, why it took stage managers so long (more than two minutes) to stop the misunderstanding.