The accounting firm that counts and delivers the winning Oscars envelopes has apologized for the Best Picture mix-up at the 89th Academy Awards.
A statement from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to PEOPLE reads: “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,” the statement concluded.
PwC executive Martha Ruiz and her colleague Brian Cullinan told the Huffington Post ahead of the ceremony that no procedure was in place if a wrong winner was called, because no mistake of that kind had ever been made (save for in 1964, when Sammy Davis Jr. was given the wrong envelope as he announced Best Adaptation or Treatment Score).
“We would make sure that the correct person was known very quickly,” Cullinan told the Huffington Post. “Whether that entails stopping the show, us walking onstage, us signaling to the stage manager — that’s really a game-time decision, if something like that were to happen. Again, it’s so unlikely.”
The pair told the outlet that they check each other “multiple times,” so that when they’re handing off the envelopes “we’re very confident they’re getting the right envelopes and the contents in them are accurate.”
In fact, both Ruiz and Cullinan sit backstage during the show, they revealed, and have the winners memorized.
The La La Land cast and crew were in the middle of their acceptance speeches when accountants from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) took the stage to reveal the mistake and correctly name Moonlight as the winner.
Returning to the stage after Dunaway incorrectly named La La Land, Beatty said he was given the wrong envelope. “I want to tell you what happened. I opened the envelope and it said Emma Stone, La La Land. That’s why I took such a long look at Faye and at you. I wasn’t trying to be funny.”
Meanwhile, Best Actress winner Emma Stone told reporters she had her winning card with her “the whole time.”
Before the mishap, Ruiz and Cullinan took to Twitter to share her excitement for the night ahead. “Getting ready to head to the show…” she tweeted.
Cullinan also shared this image of the briefcase containing the envelopes en route to the show.
“No explanation. Things just happen,” he said. “I will say, I saw two cards, and so things just happen.”
Moonlight was nominated in the best picture category alongside Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Lion, and Manchester by the Sea.
The 89th Annual Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, aired live from Los Angeles on ABC.