Can There Be a Tie at the Oscars? Here's How It Would Go Down

No joke, this has happened six times.

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They tied for first place when it came to the 2019 Critic's Choice Award for Best Actress, and now icons Glenn Close and Lady Gaga are neck-and-neck favorites to take the Best Actress gong at the 2019 Oscars. Which begs the question: Can there be a tie at the Oscars? What happens if there is? Has this ever happened?!

The short answer: The two would share the honor but each get an award—and, yes, it's actually happened a whole bunch of times. Let's break it down.

Can two actors tie at the Oscars?

Yes! Some context: There are roughly 6,000 voting members of the Academy. The voting process is simpler then the nomination process, which is really complicated. To determine who wins the award, each Academy member votes for one winner per category, for every category. Then, accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers spends 1,700 hours on this whole process (and occasionally screws it up, per the Moonlight/La La Land debacle in 2017—but that was less to do with voting and more about the wrong card being read). 

What happens if there IS a tie?

One award will go to one winner, another award to the other winner, and they'll share the title. In Oscars past, the first person will be announced, come up, give their speech, and then the process repeats itself with the second winner.

The presenters do NOT know in advance—the card will explicitly state that there is a tie and gives instructions on how to handle it. Mark Wahlberg announced the last one (see below) and was visibly caught off guard.

Has a tie ever happened?

Yes, six times! Most famously, Barbra Streisand and Katharine Hepburn tied in 1969 for Best Actress. It's actually happened recently, too. In 2013, Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall tied for Sound Editing. It's a big deal when it happens, and it causes the crowd to get REAL buzzy. So if it happens this year, get excited for the reaction shots, because it'll be wild.

Also, I imagine that Glenn Close and Lady Gaga will handle it in the same classy way they did for the Critic's Choice tie—as Glenn mentioned during her acceptance speech, "We are proud to be in this room together."

Oh boy, I really hopes this happens now.

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Katherine J. Igoe

Katherine’s a Boston-based contributor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle—from “Clueless” to Everlane to news about Lizzo. She’s been a freelancer for 11 years and has had roles with Cosmopolitan and Bustle, with bylines in Parents, Seventeen, and elsewhere. It’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.