Here’s how the viral Nicki Minaj 2022 VMA cellphone incident went down

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When Nicki Minaj walked onstage to accept the 2022 MTV Vanguard Award, she appeared to be looking around the stage and in the audience. She said she was looking for phone, which she’d used to write a few speech talking points.

“I don’t want them to start rolling the music on me,” she said. “But I never, ever in my life have written a speech and today, I jotted, like, something down in my phone and I gave my phone to Joe and he’s not up here with it.”

She started to give thanks to everyone in the audience, but continued to browse the room for someone who could help by appearing with the device. 

And then there was Joe — Joe Carozza, that is. The executive vp of media and artist relations at Republic Records, Nicki Minaj’s publicist and the holder of her all-important electronic device. 

Nicki’s award moment was disrupted for a bit when she spotted him and urged him to hand over the cellphone. 

After Nicki successfully retrieved her device, she finished her speech. 

Later, Joe deemed that moment one of the craziest PR memories of his career. In a recent Billboard article on top celebrity publicists in the industry, he described his side of the story.  

“In that moment, I realized it was in my hand and I froze,” he said.

He added, “Nicki got her phone to finish the speech, and it incited a social media riot with fans and press writing, ‘Joe, where’s her phone?'”

At one point in the speech, Nicki expressed gratitude to her “Republic family,” naming Joe among a list of label execs she referred to as “my babies.”

Job well done, Joe. 

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