This Conspiracy Theory That Justin Timberlake Still Isn't Over Britney Spears Kind of Holds Up
#TBT: Check in every Thursday as we throw it back to some of our favorite celebrity couples of all time.
Who: Grammy winner and icon Britney Spears, 36, and fellow Grammy winner and former NSYNC member Justin Timberlake, 37.
How They Met: Britney and Justin met in 1993 when they were both adorable pre-teen “Mousketeers” on the Mickey Mouse Club. As you may have heard, the soon-to-be superstars weren’t the only members to find their start on the show — Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling, and Keri Russell were Mousketeers during this period as well.
It was during the Mickey Mouse Club years that Justin and Britney shared their first kiss — which happened to be Britney’s first-ever kiss.
However, it wasn’t until their Mousketeer days were behind them that they began dating. According to several sources, things turned romantic between Britney and Justin when NSYNC and Spears began touring together in ’98.
Why We Loved Them: It was a match made in (quite literal) Disney heaven. They were so young, so American, so famous, and so committed to denim-on-denim coordination, which brings us to …
When They Peaked: It would be pure blasphemy not to share this photo whenever it's even questionably relevant:
The Breakup: Honestly, it still sort of feels like we’re in the middle of it. Britney and Justin called it quits in 2002 but Timberlake (who’s been married for the past six years and has a 3-year-old son) still talks about the split. Kind of a lot.
Rumor has it that Spears cheated on Timberlake with choreographer Wade Robson, which Timberlake discovered when he found a note in Spears’s room.
Though five months after their split Justin told Barbara Walters that he’ll always love Spears, and that he “promised” he wouldn’t publicly divulge the details of their breakup, he didn’t really follow-through. Instead, he chose to sing a song about a “horrible woman” which goes as follows: "I thought our love was so strong / I guess I was dead wrong / But to look at it positively, hey girl / At least you gave me another song about a horrible woman."
Oh, and then he released “Cry Me a River,” the music video that literally features Timberlake revenge-cheating on a Britney Spears look-alike. And if there’s any ambiguity about whether J.T. intentionally cast his ex’s doppelganger let this dispel it: he told Britney about it ahead of time, but she’d been too shocked to object. “I was kind of in denial,” Spears said of seeing the video for the first time.
When Diane Sawyer explicitly asked Spears if she’d been unfaithful, as Timberlake had implied, she refused to confirm or deny it, telling the Primetime host, “I’m not technically saying he’s wrong but I’m not technically saying he’s right either.”
The “Let’s Drag Britney” press tour continued long after the release of “Cry Me a River.” He made crass comments about his sex-life with the once notoriously virginal singer, telling a radio station “I did it. I’m dirty” when asked whether he and Spears had “oral intercourse” — you know, just your average interview question that deserves a frank response.
Two years after that, he publicly joked that "the world has always been full of Madonna wannabes, I might have even dated a couple." Hmm …
Oh, and remember “What Goes Around … Comes Around”? You might get it mixed up with “Cry Me a River” because IT’S. THE. SAME. SONG. And seemingly a meditation on the same singer—er, subject.
Anyway, the jabs have been steadily coming since 2002 — yes, even still. And fans have a pretty logical explanation as to why: he’s still not over Britney.
In 2016, during an interview with Anna Kendrick promoting animated film Trolls, fans noticed that Timberlake had a telling reaction to the interviewer’s use of the word “pinky.”
If you recall, “Pinky” was J.T.’s nickname for Britney during their relationship. In return, Brit dubbed him the far less adorable “Stinky.”
Now, pay close attention to Timberlake around the 2:10 mark.
Where They Are Now:
For the past six years, Justin has been married to actress Jessica Biel, with whom he shares a son named Silas.
Professionally, the singer has continued to stay relevant and even returned to the Super Bowl stage for the 2018 halftime show. In addition to his musical feats, Timberlake is celebrating the release of his memoir coming out later this month.
After Justin and Britney’s split, Spears had a short-lived marriage to her childhood friend Jason Allen Alexander in 2004, and then another to Kevin Federline, the father of Britney’s two sons Sean, 13, and Jayden, 12.
Britney, too, has continued to produce commercial hits, and will be returning to Las Vegas for her second residency next year.