Ellen DeGeneres got emotional when President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And who wouldn't? But the ceremony nearly didn't go off as planned. (And we're not just talking about De Niro totally fucking up the Mannequin Challenge.) A White House aide delivered a Finding Nemo-referencing litany about DeGeneres' accomplishments. She teared up as Obama fastened the medal around her neck. “Again and again, Ellen DeGeneres has shown us that a single individual can make the world a more fun, more open, more loving place — so long as we just keep swimming.”
Obama himself shouted out DeGeneres' courage coming out as a gay woman during her remarks. He praised her ability to make people laugh with rather than at people, "except when I danced on her show." "What an incredible burden that was to bear, to risk her career like that. People don't do that very often, and then to have the hopes of millions on your shoulders," Obama said. But DeGeneres faced a significant roadblock to attendance when she forgot her ID. So they wouldn't let her into the White House. Seriously.
She poked fun at herself in a subsequent tweet.
Other honorees included actors Cicely Tyson, Tom Hanks, Robert Redford, and Robert De Niro; basketball players Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan; activists Bill and Melinda Gates; musicians Diana Ross and Bruce Springsteen; and television icons Lorne Michaels and Vin Scully. Watch the full ceremony below.