Elton John could feel the love on Monday night. The 76-year-old singer officially achieved EGOT status after winning an Emmy Award for his concert film, Elton John Live: Farewell From Dodger Stadium, in the Outstanding Variety Special (Live) category.
The term EGOT is an acronym for the four big American entertainment awards — Emmys, Grammys, Oscars and Tonys —and is used for people who have won at least one of each. The acclaimed British performer is the 19th person to earn the title.
Honored to join 'the hallowed ranks of EGOT winners'
The "Rocket Man" singer, who recently underwent knee surgery, did not attend the 75th Emmys, held in Los Angeles at the Peacock Theatre at L.A. Live, for his big moment. John, who was executive producer of his special, reacted to the achievement in a social media post, writing that he is "honored to have joined the hallowed ranks of EGOT winners," adding, "Here’s to the joy of music and the magic it brings to our lives!"
While John was in the U.K., John's husband, David Furnish, a filmmaker and one of the film's producers, attended the ceremony and collected both their awards along with executive producers Ben Winston and Gabe Turner.
"I am not Elton John," Winston began his speech, explaining that the star's surgery kept him from attending. He ended by noting that they knew the special would be historic, as Disney’s first-ever live global stream. However, "we didn’t know it was going to be historic because it was going to win a man who has created the soundtrack to all of our lives ... an EGOT!"
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) January 16, 2024
Amy Poehler, who along with Tina Fey resurrected Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update" to announce the category, noted before the envelope was opened that John was up for an EGOT. "I can't speak for Elton, but EGOT to be excited about that," Poehler quipped.
Backstage after the award was handed out, Furnish said he FaceTimed John in England, where he's recovering, and "woke him up in the middle of the night."
"He screamed out loud," he says of John, with whom he has two sons. "He was like, 'YES!' Really happy. Incredibly honored. And he said ... I'm lucky to be in such talented and esteemed company."
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) January 16, 2024
Who else has an EGOT?
John is number 19 on a distinguished list of actors, singers, composers, directors and producers including Richard Rodgers, Helen Hayes, Rita Moreno, Audrey Hepburn, Mel Brooks, Whoopi Goldberg, John Legend, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice, Marvin Hamlisch, Jennifer Hudson, Viola Davis, Mike Nichols and Alan Menken.
There are also six non-competitive EGOT winners. Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Harry Belafonte, James Earl Jones, Quincy Jones are among those who have won all four awards, but at least one of them was an honorary distinction (like an Academy Honorary Award). That's obviously still an amazing achievement, but it's a separate list.
A few more competitive EGOT stats:
The first person to get one was Rodgers in 1962 — long before EGOTs were a thing.
Goldberg was the first Black woman to win an EGOT.
J-Hud became the youngest female to get an EGOT at age 40.
Legend was the first Black man to get an EGOT at age 39.
Hepburn's and Nichols's were earned over the longest time periods — 40 years.
Songwriter Robert Lopez, who co-created The Book of Mormon and wrote music for Frozen, Frozen II and Coco, was the first (and so far only) person to win an EGOT twice over.
The majority of winners (11 of 19) completed their EGOT with an Emmy win. John, Legend, Goldberg and Moreno are among them.
Other variants of the acronym have grown from EGOT, including EGGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Golden Globe, Oscar, Tony) to MacPEGOT (MacArthur Fellowship, Pulitzer, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony).
When did EGOT become a thing?
Philip Michael Thomas, best known for playing Tubbs on the 1980s TV drama Miami Vice, gets credit for coining the term in 1984. The actor wore a necklace with those letters to remind himself of his acting ambitions. Asked about it by the Associated Press at the time, he said, "Hopefully in the next five years I will win all of those awards."
Thomas didn't win any of them (nor was he nominated). He backtracked on the meaning of his necklace the next year — telling People it really stood for "energy, growth, opportunity and talent" — after he was criticized for being egotistical.
It was 25 years after that when EGOT really entered the lexicon, courtesy of Fey's hit comedy 30 Rock. In 2009, it became a storyline — introduced in the "Dealbreakers Talk Show #0001" episode, written by co-producer Kay Cannon — after Tracy Morgan's character saw a cheesy gold-and-diamond necklace that spelled out EGOT at a jewelry store.
The salesperson explained the necklace once belonged to Thomas — and Morgan's Tracy Jordan ended up buying it and being obsessed with making an EGOT happen. The show, centered on a sketch comedy, rolled with the storyline for years time, even bringing Goldberg on as a guest when Jordan tried to steal her awards.
"When that episode came out, there was a lot of talk about the EGOT, about EGOTing, and that felt like a new, fresh idea," Cannon told the Ringer in 2019. "So many people were talking about it. We thought that people would really remember this idea of EGOTing."
They did. According to a 2016 story about EGOTs in the the Atlantic, over 6.2 million households tuned in to the initial 30 Rock episode and EGOT became a buzzword. For the first time, it started gaining traction in Google search that year. "EGOT didn’t really exist before 2009," the outlet noted.
It wasn't lost on Don Scardino, a 30 Rock producer and director, that it really all stemmed from mocking the concept on the show. Then it became something Hollywood stars were suddenly aspiring to.
"Suddenly the cheesiest thing in the show then became a thing," Scardino explained to the Ringer. "That was kind of extraordinary, and it spoke to the power of and certainly the popularity of our show and how a show that satirizes pop culture could then influence pop culture. Now the EGOT has become suddenly a goal that people want to pursue."
For what it's worth, Morgan's character ended up winning an EGOT, during the "Double-Edged Sword" episode in 2011.
Who's the next potential EGOT winner?
There is a long list of stars who are close to joining the club. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hugh Jackman, Al Pacino, Cynthia Nixon, Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler, Cher, Paul McCartney and Eminem are among those who have three of the four.
Stay tuned to see who becomes lucky No. 20.