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14 Of The Most Memorable MTV VMAs Acceptance Speeches

Remember when Nicki Minaj threw shade at Miley Cyrus?

The end of the summer can only mean one thing — it's time for the MTV Video Music Awards.

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It's the annual awards show that is known for its shocking, out-there moments. How could we forget Britney Spears performing with a python around her shoulders or Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke twerking around onstage? 

To gear up for this year's VMAs antics taking place on September 12, we took a walk down memory lane to reminisce on some of the most memorable, gossip-worthy acceptance speeches in VMA history.

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1. 2002: When Eminem talked about his beef with Moby during his acceptance speech.

Eminem talking into the mic onstage at the 2002 MTV VMAs
Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic / Via Getty Images

In 2002, Eminem and Moby had pent-up beef with one another, so the Slim Shady rapper used his acceptance speech for Best Male Video as a way to throw jabs at the musician. "That little Moby girl threw me out of my zone," he said, while reading from his list of people to thank. Although the crowd booed the rapper, he clearly didn't care because he responded by saying, "Keep booing, little girl. I will hit a man with glasses." 

2. 2002: When a confused Michael Jackson gave a speech for a fake award.

Britney Spears and Michael Jackson on stage at the 2002 MTV VMAs
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During the 2002 award show, MTV celebrated Michael Jackson's birthday with a cake and speech given by Britney Spears. Unfortunately, when Spears called the King of Pop "Artist of the Millennium" before calling him to the stage, Jackson thought he was receiving that award. 

During his speech for the made-up award, he said, "When I was a little boy growing up in Indiana, if someone told me I'd be getting the Artist of the Millennium award, I'd never have believed it." He then thanked God, his parents, and the magician David Blaine. YIKES!

3. 2009: The infamous moment when Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift's acceptance speech.

Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift on stage at the 2009 MTV VMAs
Kevin Mazur / WireImage / Via Getty Images

How could we forget the history-making, cringeworthy moment when Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift when she went up to accept her award for Best Video by a Female Artist in 2009? Instead of hearing an acceptance speech from Swift, the world heard West exclaim, “I’mma let you finish, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time! One of the best videos of all time!”

4. 2011: When Justin Bieber forgot to thank Selena Gomez in his speech.

Justin Bieber holding his Moon Man on stage at the 2011 MTV VMAs
Ian Gavan / Getty Images / Via Getty Images

Back in 2011 when a young, fresh-faced Bieber won a VMA for Best Male Video, viewers and audience members were shocked when the singer didn't include his then-girlfriend at the time, Selena Gomez, in his acceptance speech. 

5. 2011: The speech where Tyler, the Creator dropped way too many f-bombs.

Tyler, The Creator on stage with a crowd of people talking into the mic at the 2011 MTV VMAs
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That same year, Tyler, the Creator was so taken aback by his Best New Artist win that he couldn't stop dropping f-bombs in his acceptance speech. "Yo, I'm excited as f*** right now, yo," he said beating out Wiz Khalifa, Foster the People, and Big Sean that year.  

6. 2012: The year Drake gave a heartfelt speech.

Drake with a crowd of people behind him giving an acceptance speech at the 2012 MTV VMAs
Kevin Winter / Getty Images / Via Getty Images

Drake gave a heartwarming speech when he accepted his 2012 VMA for Best Hip-Hop Video. "I want to dedicate this award to any kid that's ever had a long walk home by yourself. This is to you," he said. 

7. 2013: When Taylor Swift called out Harry Styles for being the inspiration for her song.

Taylor Swift on stage with a group of people giving her acceptance speech at the 2013 MTV VMAs
Michael Loccisano / FilmMagic / Via Getty Images

Taylor Swift used her 2013 win for Best Female Video as an opportunity to throw shade at ex-boyfriend Harry Styles. "I also wanna thank the person who inspired [‘I Knew You Were Trouble’], who knows exactly who he is, because now I got one of these!” Some people thought this dig was a bit childish on Swift's part. 

Accept the award, Tay, and keep it moving!

8. 2014: When Miley Cyrus used her acceptance speech as an opportunity to talk about homelessness in the country.

Miley Cyrus posing with a man holding her Moon Man award at the 2014 MTV VMAs
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Miley Cyrus has always been one to steal the show at the VMAs (remember her twerking days?). In 2014, she turned her acceptance speech into a plea for the homeless community. When she won the Video of the Year Award, her mystery date went up to accept the award on her behalf to bring awareness to the  homeless children and teens in the country.  

"I've been an extra in your movies; I've been an extra in your lives. Los Angeles has the largest population of homeless youth in America," he said to the crowd. 

9. 2014: When Beyoncé blessed us with an amazing "thank you" performance the year she won the Video Vanguard award.

Beyonce performing on stage at the 2014 MTV VMAs
Christopher Polk / Getty Images for MTV / Via Getty Images

In addition to giving an acceptance speech for the VMA Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award, Queen Bey wowed the world with a show-stopping performance of every song off her visual album Beyoncé in 2014. Let's just say I still watch this performance on loop when I need a Beyoncé fix. 

10. 2015: The moment when Nicki Minaj said the famous line, "Miley, what’s good?"

Nicki Minaj giving her speech, talking into the mic on stage at the 2015 MTV VMAs
Christopher Polk / Getty Images / Via Getty Images

A common theme at the VMAs is artists using their acceptance speech as an opportunity to throw shade at others. Nicki Minaj did just this at 2015's VMAs when she took the stage after winning for Best Hip-Hop Video and name-dropped Miley Cyrus, that year's host. “You know who I want to thank tonight? My pastor,” Minaj said. “I love you so much. And now, back to this bitch that had a lot to say about me in the press. Miley, what’s good?"

11. 2016: When Rihanna dodged Drake's kiss when accepting her Video Vanguard award.

Drake and Rihanna on stage at the 2016 MTV VMAs
Jewel Samad / AFP via Getty Images / Via Getty Images

Another memorable VMA acceptance speech moment was when Drake basically declared his love for Rihanna when presenting her with the Video Vanguard award. Once Drake was done gushing over her, he then had the guts to go in and kiss the singer — to which she dodged in front of the entire world. Sheesh! 

12. 2017: The year when Pink brought us to tears with her inspiring speech.

Pink on stage at the mic giving a speech holding her Moon Man at the 2017 MTV VMAs
Kevin Mazur / WireImage / Via Getty Images

Pink also won the Video Vanguard award in 2017 and gave a very powerful, speech talking about a personal experience she had with her 6-year-old daughter when her little one said she's the "ugliest girl she knows." 

The singer went on to explain how she taught her daughter how being different and loving who we are is a beautiful thing. "We don’t change. We take the gravel and the shell, and we make a pearl. And we help other people to change so they can see more kinds of beauty." 

13. 2019: Cardi B keeping it real in her acceptance speech.

Cardi B smiling standing at the mic on stage at the 2019 MTV VMAs
Mike Coppola / Getty Images for MTV / Via Getty Images

Leave it to Cardi B to alway keep it real. During her acceptance speech for her Best Hip-Hop Video win, she thanked her director for putting up with her. "Since this is the Video Music Awards and everything, I really want to thank my music video team — first Jora Frantzis — that’s the director. She gotta hear outta my mouth, ‘I look ugly. Edit my stomach; edit my butt. Smooth my cellulite out.'"

She ended her speech saying, "And I wanna thank my glam team, Erika, Tokyo. Thank y’all so much. Without y’all, my music videos wouldn’t look like this. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus!”

14. 2020: Lady Gaga gave viewers a hopeful message during her speech.

Lady Gaga at the mic wearing a bright costume giving her acceptance speech at the 2020 MTV VMAs
Kevin Winter / Getty Images for MTV / Via Getty Images

2020 was a tough year for everyone, and Lady Gaga made sure to acknowledge that in her VMAs acceptance speech for the event's first-ever Tricon Award. "I wish for you to think right now of three things that define who you are, and take a moment to reward yourself for your bravery. This has not been an easy year for a lot of people. But what I see in the world is a massive triumph of courage," were some of the encouraging words the singer shared. 

What's your favorite VMA moment during a speech? Let us know in the comments.