John Cena was naked on the Oscars’ stage. Here’s what happened.
5 mins read

John Cena was naked on the Oscars’ stage. Here’s what happened.


The 96th Annual Academy Awards were held on Sunday night, honouring some of the best films of 2023 (excluding Killers of the Flower Moon). It also featured a very nude John Cena, who lent his body to a cheeky bit referencing a similarly clothes-free attendee from Oscars history.

Cena wasn’t up for any awards at the 2024 Oscars, though the well-known wrestler and actor did have a cameo in Best Original Song winner Barbie. Instead, he appeared onstage in his birthday suit to present the award for Best Costume Design alongside host Jimmy Kimmel.

Poor Things ended up claiming that statue, but it wasn’t the muscled masculine figure that captured most onlookers’ attention. 

Why was John Cena naked at the Oscars?

Initially introducing the Best Costume Design category solo, Kimmel stated that it was the 50th anniversary of “what used to be the craziest moment in Oscar history” — a crown likely conceded when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock during the 2022 Academy Awards. Specifically, he recalled a streaking incident at the Oscars in 1974.

“Can you imagine if a nude man ran across the stage today?” said Kimmel. He then took a moment to wait before repeating. “I said, ‘Can you imagine if a nude man ran across the stage today?'”

At this, Cena tentatively poked his head out from behind the set to tell the host he’d changed his mind about doing the streaking bit. Performing a scripted skit, Cena claimed that streaking didn’t feel appropriate for such an “elegant event.”

“Honestly, you should feel ashamed right now for suggesting such a tasteless idea,” said Cena. “The male body is not a joke.”

Failing to persuade Cena to go through with it, Kimmel told the wrestler to just give out the award, acting frustrated as he handed the wrestler the winner’s envelope before exiting. The naked and afraid man was then left to tentatively edge out onto stage, with nothing but a pair of Birkenstocks and an oversized envelope to protect his modesty.

“Costumes,” Cena said to significant laughter. “They are so important. Maybe the most important thing there is.”

He then noted he wouldn’t be able to actually open the envelope, prompting Kimmel to return and announce the nominees for Best Costume Design.

Was John Cena really nude, and was that his real butt?

The television broadcast cut to a montage of the nominees, so those at home didn’t see how Cena got wrapped in a pale pink garment that looked like a theatre curtain. However, videos subsequently shared on social media showed that the stage lights went down and four people ran onstage to dress him during this interval, ensuring Cena was more comfortable and presentable when announcing Poor Things the winner.

Such backstage images confirmed that Cena was almost fully nude, only wearing a beige modesty garment to cover his genitals and butt. It also offered viewers a side-on view of his butt, with many expressing awe and admiration for its impressive shape and size.

Cena’s intimidating glutes are no surprise to longtime fans, but their brief time on the Oscars’ stage has likely won them at least a few more devotees.

John Cena back stage during the the 96th Annual Academy Awards in Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, CA, Sunday, March 10, 2024.


Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Who streaked at the Oscars in 1974?

The Oscars was previously disrupted by unscheduled nudity in 1974, when photographer Robert Opel streaked across the stage during the 46th Academy Awards. Making his run as host David Niven attempted to introduce Elizabeth Taylor, Opel’s display prompted laughter and applause from the crowd. Streaking had been a significant trend at the time, with the host noting that such an event “was almost bound to happen.” 

“Isn’t it fascinating to think that probably the only laugh that man will ever get in his life is by stripping off and showing his shortcomings?” Niven quickly quipped.

Opel didn’t have any particular motive aside from perhaps advocating for a more permissive societal approach to nudity. He also noted that it would be useful for elevating his own profile.

“It just occurred to me that it might be an educative thing to do,” Opel reportedly said afterward. “You know, people shouldn’t be ashamed of being nude in public. Besides, it’s a hell of a way to launch a career.”

Peacemaker actor Cena doesn’t need any help in that regard, and was an invited guest rather than a bare skinned interloper. Still, his unexpectedly undressed appearance has left a significant impression.





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