4 Times Justin Timberlake Stole The Spotlight From Famous Women

Correction 2/9/2024: A previous version of this article incorrectly claimed Britney Spears' former business manager Lou M. Taylor tweeted about Justin Timberlake. The tweets came from a fan account, not Lou M. Taylor.

Throughout his decades-long career, Justin Timberlake has garnered a reputation for trying to steal the spotlight from successful women. As you might've guessed, it all started with his ex, Britney Spears. For the longest time, we only had his perspective to go off of, and he didn't paint her in the best of light. However, we learned about several tragic moments from Spears and Timberlake's relationship through her 2023 memoir, "The Woman In Me." 

The "Toxic" hitmaker revealed that he convinced her to get an abortion because he didn't want to be a father. Spears believed that he cheated on her several times and claimed that he broke off their longstanding relationship through a text message. So, when Timberlake made a comeback in the music industry in 2024 with "Selfish," Spears' fans weren't too happy and tried to reduce its impact by encouraging people to listen to her 2011 track, also called "Selfish." The ploy worked, and Spears' version garnered loads of streams and digital sales, per Billboard. 

However, the "Toxic" hitmaker wanted to let bygones be bygones. In a since-deleted Instagram post from January 2024, she apologized for some of the most surprising confessions in "The Woman In Me," and expressed her love for Timberlake's comeback single "Selfish." Shortly after, the "Suit & Tie" singer had a celebratory show for his birthday, during which he said, "I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to absolutely f****** nobody" before singing "Cry Me A River," a song that he used to shame Spears, per People.

He tainted Britney Spears' reputation after their breakup

When Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears called it quits in 2002, she had already established herself as the pop princess of the music industry with smash hits like "...Baby One More Time," "Oops! I Did It Again," and "I'm A Slave 4 U." Her reputation took a big hit with the release of Timberlake's "Cry Me A River" music video, which featured a Spears lookalike being unfaithful to him. To add more fuel to the fire he started, Timberlake gave a Barbara Walters interview in which he painted himself as the heartbroken lover trying to peacefully move on after giving all his love away to a cheater who didn't deserve it. 

When Walters asked him if Spears was unfaithful, he gave a vague answer that made it seem like he was trying to protect her. However, later in the interview, he played a song called "Horrible Woman," which seemingly bestowed that title on Spears. The "Mirrors" singer claimed that even as he broke up with the woman who wronged him, he sweetly told her she could always count on him.

In her memoir, Spears admitted to cheating on Timberlake but claimed that she only did it after finding out about his many affairs. Despite that, everyone believed she was "a harlot who'd broken the heart of America's golden boy." Spears said she couldn't talk about her version of events because they would seem like lies against Timberlake's stories. She succinctly concluded: "I don't think Justin realized the power he had in shaming me."

Janet Jackson's career was never the same after their performance at the 2004 Super Bowl

Janet Jackson was at the peak of her career in 2004 when she headlined the Super Bowl halftime show with Justin Timberlake. Although she gave a phenomenal performance, unfortunately, all people remembered from the night was the moment when her breast popped out after Timberlake tore off a piece of her clothing. The incident was dubbed a "wardrobe malfunction" because the clothing rip was initially only supposed to reveal her red bra.

After the Super Bowl, Timberlake spoke about the situation with Access Hollywood, saying, "I love giving y'all something to talk about." When the interviewer asked if he had sex with Jackson, he answered, "It's every man's dream" (via Glamour). Around the same time, Jackson was having a breakdown as she processed what had happened. Whenever somebody asked Timberlake about the incident after that initial interview, he took on a more grave tone. 

Speaking to KCBS, he claimed Jackson and her choreographer had called him before the big night and asked him to tear her bra off. He said that he was equally shocked to see her bare breast exposed because he hadn't anticipated it. Timberlake walked away from the incident unscathed while Jackson paid the price. While he won two Grammys in 2004, her invitation was rescinded despite her heartfelt apology. The "Selfish" singer only publicly apologized to Spears and Jackson in 2021, writing, "I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism" (via BBC).

He wedged his way into Dakota Johnson and Christina Aguilera's important moments

While Dakota Johnson gave her SNL monologue in January 2024, musical guest Justin Timberlake interrupted her in what appeared to be a scripted moment. He boasted that he had already hosted five times and offered to be in any comedic sketches they had planned for the night, which earned a lot of love from the live audience. 

However, the internet wasn't so kind to Timberlake. One fan took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to explain that while the moment was scripted, it was a testament to how Timberlake often overshadowed women, writing, "My point is that he still agreed to do it & it's a bad look for him considering how foul he's been to women."

Sometimes, Timberlake manages to steal the show away from famous women when he's not even performing. Madonna and Spears' 2003 kiss at the MTV Music Awards remains one of the most iconic moments from the award show. As it happened, the feed cut to Timberlake to capture his reaction. Sadly, it took away the spotlight from Christina Aguilera, who was locking lips with Madonna at the time. According to Rolling Stone, Aguilera was gutted that their kiss didn't make the broadcast and attempted to get edited in later.