Who Actually Broke Twitter on Oscar Sunday?

Ellen DeGeneres sent out an historic tweet Sunday night during the Oscars, racking up over 3 million retweets and possibly even breaking Twitter for 20 social-media-silent minutes. But we wondered who was actually responsible for this monumental celebrity selfie moment.


We analyzed this tweet backwards and forwards, trying to find out where in the world people were retweeting from and who the most influential retweeters were. We also tried to determine how responsible each individual celebrity was for setting this record and ruining the Twitter engineers’ Oscars party.

Retweet Names
The Usual Suspects: Celebrities

Celebrity translates across all media, so with a dozen celebrities (counting Angelina Jolie’s hand and half of Jared Leto’s face) and the spoken challenge by Ellen, this tweet was destined for greatness. Visually, we suspect that it’s the grin of Oscar happiness, the photobombing Kevin Spacey and the confusing cameo of Lupita Nyong’o’s brother, Peter, that help catapult this tweet into the history books.

Global retweets


Retweets in North America


Retweets by state
Where We’re Retweeting From

It’s no surprise that North America led the RTing frenzy, but when you break it down to countries, Canada, the UK, and many parts of Central and South America indulged in Ellen’s RT challenge – with a quarter of RTs coming from countries outside of North America.

When we look at US states, after the expected California and New York response follows a RT-happy Texas (maybe all those pre-SXSW Oscars parties, or that Texas is the second most populous state). And before even approaching Chicago, Florida takes a 1.1% lead. And lastly, Pennsylvania runs as the dark horse — possibly because of the budding film/TV production presence in Pittsburgh and the Philadelphia metro areas.

The Influencer Layer
Celebrity retweet influencers

Individuals on Twitter can influence millions at the click of a button. It certainly helped that Ellen (@TheEllenShow), with a following of nearly 25 million, premiered the selfie (she’s also the 12th most followed voice on Twitter). But among a slew of taste-makers including Ryan Seacrest, Perez Hilton and Stephen Colbert, three Spanish-speaking voices stand out, contributing nearly 10 million followers collectively.


As this image will go down in history as the most shared image on Twitter (for now), let’s give credit where credit is due. We measured the actual space each celebrity took up in the image and distributed the 3 million RTs accordingly.

Oscar Retweets

Bradley Cooper’s face takes up a strong 13% of the image and deserves over 400,000 retweets, with JLaw and Ellen close behind with their big smiling faces. But don’t discount Peter Nyongo’o sneak attack, snatching what could’ve been thousands of RTs from Angelina Jolie and Lupita, his award-winning sister.

Awards shows will continue to evolve as we introduce more and more screens to our viewing experience. But celebrity appeal will always triumph. Especially if you cram 12 stars into a selfie. That’s one way to connect the digital and Hollywood divide.

Click here for this story in infographic form.


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