Oscar Selfie: Samsung Donates $3 Million in Retweet Match

By Colin Bertram and David Bauder
|  Tuesday, Mar 4, 2014  |  Updated 12:59 PM PDT
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    It was the selfie seen around the world. And now the creator of the smartphone that captured the moment is matching the number of retweets to the amount of $3 million.

    Academy Awards host Ellen DeGeneres made social media history Sunday during the Oscars telecast when she enlisted a few A-list audience members to participate in a smartphone selfie.

    DeGeneres engaged Oscar-nominee Bradley Cooper to take a picture featuring herself and other stars including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyong'o and Channing Tatum. The host then asked viewers to help her set a retweet record.

    They complied and the image was retweeted more than 1 million times in the first hour. The crush to forward the humorous picture disrupted Twitter service for 20 minutes, the company said. By Tuesday afternoon it had reached more than 3.1 million retweets.

    Much conjecture arose immediately after the image was posted over whether or not the stunt was planned and paid for by Samsung, a commercial sponsor of the Academy Awards and creator of the Galaxy smartphone used by Cooper. Other backstage posts from DeGeneres included shots from an iPhone.

    Samsung spent an estimated $20 million on ads to run during breaks in the Oscars broadcast on Sunday night.

    ABC said Samsung did not pay specifically for use of the camera in DeGeneres' selfie segment and the company wasn't explicitly named on the air as the stunt unfolded, but it is a noticeably larger device than an iPhone. Spokeswoman Nicole Marostica said once producers decided to do the segment, it made more sense to use a Samsung product because the company was an Oscars sponsor.

    "They were just lucky beneficiaries of the whole thing," Marostica said.

    In an almost identical match to the number of retweets the image has received, Samsung announced Monday it was donating $1.5 million each to DeGeneres' favorite charities, St. Jude's and the Humane Society.

    "While we were a sponsor of the Oscars and had an integration with ABC, we were delighted to see Ellen organically incorporate the device into the selfie moment that had everyone talking," Samsung said in a statement, adding, "A great surprise for everyone, she captured something that nobody expected. In honor of this epic moment and of course, the incredible response of nearly 3 million re tweets, we wanted to make a donation to Ellen’s charities of choice: St Jude’s and the Humane Society. Samsung will donate 1.5 million dollars to each charity."

    "Ellen was given a choice of what she wanted to do," said Oscars co-producer Craig Zadan. "One moment she wanted to do the iPhone, the next moment the Samsung. I think it was nothing except it was an arbitrary last-minute decision, let's go with the Samsung. Believe me, everything was given a lot of thought. The telephone was not given any thought."

    Even more spontaneous was that galaxy of stars surrounding Ellen in the selfie shot. It was just supposed to be Streep, Zadan said. "I don't think that Ellen even knew that all of those other stars would get out of their seats and jump in and be in the picture," he said.

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