This article has been updated with new information about the stage crasher's identity and the involvement of police after the incident.
As a handful of Elden Ring developers stood on stage to accept the award for Game of the Year, they didn't realize an invader was standing right behind them.
The show's ultimate award was handed out in the final minutes of the show, and for a while it was another utterly normal and sincere acceptance speech, the kind we've listened to for many years. Elden Ring game director Hidetaka Miyazaki, speaking through a translator, thanked supporters of the game and gave gratitude to his fellow developers. He let players know that more Elden Ring, presumably DLC, is on the way: "We still have several things we want to do, so getting this GOTY award really encourages us."
As a music cue was about to pass the mic back to Keighley for a sendoff, a young man broke through the line of FromSoftware developers to speak directly into the microphone: "Real quick I want to thank everybody and say that I think I want to nominate this award to my Reformed Orthodox rabbi Bill Clinton. Thank you everybody."
The words stunned the audience and people on stage as they struggled to process what they had just heard. It's not unusual for other figures in awards shows to try to get a final thank-you in before they're ushered off stage, and the teenaged intruder was dressed formally enough to disguise himself in the huddle of FromSoftware developers, who were understandably so focused on the moment that they didn't look behind them.
How did this kid even get on stage? Rolling back the tape, it looks like he joined Miyazaki's posse during their walk to the stage (keep looking right until you see him).
The ambusher's statement lasted just 13 seconds, which wasn't enough time for Geoff Keighley or those directing the show to intervene. The words seemed to startle FromSoftware's translator on stage first, but the show's director and camera operators were similarly confused, pulling away to a wide shot after Miyazaki's conclusion before cutting back to a closeup of the young man making his statement. Some confused applause followed.
The individual was then escorted off stage alongside the FromSoftware devs. According to a Game Awards spokesperson, the stage crasher was detained by show security and then taken to a local police station by onsite LAPD officers who'd been hired for the event.
Minutes after the show's conclusion, host Geoff Keighley stated on Twitter that "the individual who interrupted our Game of the Year moment has been arrested." An LAPD spokesperson told PC Gamer on Friday morning that no arrest was made, although a report was taken.
"Reformed Orthodox rabbi Bill Clinton"
Like those in the theater, viewers were baffled by the interloper's reference to "Reformed Orthodox rabbi Bill Clinton," and the incident was followed by a stream of tweets from viewers wondering if they'd heard the phrase correctly. It wasn't immediately clear whether the remark was simply intended to be weird and memorable, or if it referred to an inside joke or antisemetic conspiracy theory, or all of the above.
The stunt was apparently premeditated, including the phrase which was spoken: One Twitter user posted Discord chat logs (opens in new tab) which appear to show a server reacting to the prank before the individual took the mic. "He's gonna shout out his rabbi when they're done," one user wrote.
In the hours following the incident, the mic crasher's identity emerged from online acquaintances and social media sleuths: a teenager named Matan who waved a "free Hong Kong" shirt at an NBA game a few years ago and who has posted numerous short commentary videos about the 2019–2020 Hong Kong protests. No coherent political motivation for his Bill Clinton comment has been discerned, which many now interpret as an intentional feature of the prank. In interviews with journalists, Matan has stayed 'in-character,' telling Polygon (opens in new tab) for instance that he simply wanted to promote the former president. It's some relief, perhaps, that what we witnessed was apparently a childish prank and not some pernicious coded message.
The Game Awards tells PC Gamer that future shows will include added security measures to prevent similar incidents. The ambush made for a jarring ending to an otherwise pleasant and announcement-packed three hours. Here's everything that was revealed at The Game Awards.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that an arrest was made. The individual was reportedly detained by LAPD officers, but the department says no arrest was made.