Alas, Jackson mistook Britney's welcoming words to mean that he was being officially honored as the greatest singer of the past thousand years.
"When I was a little boy growing up in Indiana," Jackson told the star-studded audience and millions of viewers around the globe, "if someone told me I'd be getting the Artist of the Millennium award, I'd never have believed it..."
Among those whom Jackson thanked before he was politely escorted from the stage? God, his parents -- and the magician David Blaine.
["There is no such award as the Artist of the Millennium," an MTV spokeswoman later explained. "I think some wires got crossed." Though there is in fact a "Male Artist Of The Millenium" award (which Jackson received at the World Music Awards in Monte Carlo in 2000), Jacko was named "America's Most Foolish Individual" in Jeff Barge's annual April Fool's Day poll for the next three years.]