The 19th MTV video music awards was the biggest ever, with an estimated 12 million viewers. Eminem won a bunch of awards and threatened to punch Moby, but the award ceremony will forever be famous for the 'award that never was'.
Basically, MTV realised that a surefire way to gain viewers for its ceremony programme was to have two of the most successful pop artists of recent times on it; Britney Spears and Michael Jackson
Now the problem was that neither had done much of anything in 2002, so some bright spark noticed that the awards ceremony was the same day as Michael Jackson's birthday, and decided that Britney could give Jacko a 44th birthday present from MTV. That way they'd both be at the ceremony without having to be nominated for an award.
So when the time came, Britney Spears made a bit of a mumbled speech, in which she mentioned that she thought of Jackson as the artist of the millennium. She then gave him his birthday cake and a present; a musical note trophy thing.
Michael Jackson evidently hadn't been told exactly why he was there and wasn't fully listening to Britney, but he must have heard the words "Artist of the Millennium" and reached his own conclusions. He made an acceptance speech:
"When I was a little boy in Indiana, if someone had told me as a musician I would be getting the Artist of the Millennium award, I wouldn't have believed it".
He thanked God, David Blaine and his mother among others for helping him win the award.
The press weren't sure what to make of it. A lot of newspapers and websites reported that Jackson had indeed won the 'Artist of the Millennium' award. Others figured out the real story and ran with that. It ended with MTV confirming that there was no 'Artist of the Millennium' award, and that Michael had indeed got the wrong end of the stick.
What I wonder is which millennium Jacko thought he was the artist of. I mean we were only 19 months into this millennium, it's a little early to judge. As for the previous millennium, he'd be up against Mozart, Bach, Elvis Presley and The Beatles, to name but a few. It certainly makes him look a little vain.
In any case, I doubt MTV will be giving Michael Jackson a 45th birthday present.