Jimmy Kimmel Reveals What He Was Really Thinking During Last Year's Oscar Envelopegate

The jaw-dropping gaffe in the final minutes of last year’s Oscars when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced the wrong Best Picture winner is a moment Jimmy Kimmel won’t soon forget. Like ever.

While he has yet to watch the telecast from that night or even catch a replay of his hilarious opening monologue, “I’ve seen the ‘envelope moment’ like 30 times,” Kimmel tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue.

“It totally came out of the blue and became something I will probably be asked about for the rest of my life.”

Of course the Jimmy Kimmel Live! star, who returns to host the 90th Academy Awards on March 4, was just as baffled by Envelopegate as the 33 million viewers left reeling in their living rooms.

“I was sitting with Matt Damon (in the audience), and when we determined that something was awry, I thought somebody’s gotta go up there and say something. I thought, ‘Oh, I’m the only one who has a microphone on, so it should probably be me’,” he says.

Grab Cut Insert Cut ABC's Coverage Of The 89th Annual Academy Awards
Eddy Chen/ABC

“I strolled up onstage, looked around to see what was happening and made a couple of jokes to try to settle things down. Denzel Washington actually gave me a signal to let the guys from Moonlight speak, which made sense. Luckily Denzel was thinking, because I really wasn’t…It was like I was walking around in a dream.”

  • For more about Kimmel, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

While Kimmel has been widely praised for defusing the monumentally awkward situation with improvised levity (“Personally, I blame Steve Harvey for this,” he cracked, referring to Harvey’s similar Miss Universe flub), he shrugs off such talk.

ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" - Season 15
Randy Holmes/ABC

“It’s funny. People compliment me for handling it in a calm way, but the truth is, it’s just a television show,” he says. “It’s not like somebody had something stuck in their throat and I gave them the Heimlich maneuver. It wasn’t a heroic act by any stretch of the imagination.”

The 90th Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be broadcast live on the ABC Television Network at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

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