The backstory behind Paris Hilton’s iconic paparazzi photo with Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan

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One of the most iconic moments in pop culture has to be the paparazzi photos of Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, and Lindsay Lohan in the front seat of a car after a night out.

On a Thursday episode of her iHeartRadio podcast This Is Paris, Hilton recalled the night the trio was photographed in her car, surrounded by photographers in Los Angeles. While it appeared that the biggest names in pop culture were enjoying girl's night, there was drama brewing inside the car.

“So that was a night that Britney and I went out, and we were at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and we were at our friend's party, and then we were deciding to leave because we wanted to go home,” Hilton revealed. “And we were just walking to the car and all of a sudden got swarmed by tons of paparazzi. Just as we were walking to the car, that's when Lindsay came up. So, it was kind of awkward because at this point, we are just having some drama.”

Hilton continued, “So as I was getting in the car, one of the paparazzi screamed at me, ‘Is it true that you hit Lindsay?' And at that moment, all of a sudden, I saw Lindsay walking towards us, and I said, ‘Why don't you just ask her?' And Lindsay said…'No, of course not'…something like, ‘No, Paris would never hit me, I've known her since I'm 15.' It was basically just, not admitting what she did. It was quite awkward to be asked that question, and then it was just weird how the whole thing happened.”

As Hilton tried driving away from the flashing lightbulbs, “I looked over, and she's in my car,” she said. “And we weren't getting along, so I was polite.” Hilton told the same story in 2018, adding that she didn't make a further scene because, “I didn’t want to humiliate her in front of all the paparazzi and be like, ‘Get out of my car.'” Hilton added that she and Spears went back to her house and went to sleep. “There was no Uber back then, so [Lohan] probably called a cab. I have no idea,” she said.

Lohan has also insisted that Hilton did not strike her, telling paparazzi in 2018, “She never did that. She's a good girl.” Hilton later branded her a “pathological liar” in an Instagram comment.

At one point in the 2000s, Hilton and Lohan were close friends, but on her podcast the heiress explains that their friendship didn't last long.

“She did some things to really hurt me and betrayed my trust, and caused a lot of drama,” she said. “So we weren't friends anymore, and it was kind of like this on and off friendship.”

Though in hindsight, Hilton says that there was a lot working against them to encourage rivalry between the pair.

“But when I think about it now, we were just so young, immature. It was like high school drama, especially in the L.A. scene, and to live it out in public with the media constantly trying to stir things up and make things worse than they were. Back then, the media really enjoyed having girls feud with each other.”

Since that night, photos and videos of the encounter (and speculative stories) have made celebrity history and the image lives on merchandise like coffee mugs, car shades and pins. Hilton even had fun with a 2019 tribute photo featuring a Spears impersonator and an image of Queen Elizabeth in place of Lohan.

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