Seriously, Why Are So Many Celebs Playing Uno?

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Illustration: Konstantin Sergeyev/Vulture. Photos: Getty Images; Alamy.

The New York Times and Stephen Colbert’s production company would have you believe that pickleball is the game of the summer, but there’s another seemingly astroturfed pastime that’s getting a lot of action with the celebs: Uno. It’s a trend that started slow but is gaining momentum: In August 2020, Kylie Jenner had custom Uno cards made for her birthday, a move that could be explained away by pandemic stir-craziness. That was going around at the time, if you’ll recall: Kim Kardashian posted an Instagram story of playing with Kylie’s personalized deck, Ziggy Marley plugged the game in a September 2020 interview in People about his new kids’ album, and Joe Jonas shared an Instagram story of him and Sophie Turner playing in November 2020. And Colleen Hoover’s Uno February 2021 Instagram post definitely gave off cabin-fever vibes.

But in 2023 things really ramped up. First, John Legend and Chrissy Teigen brought Uno to the Vanity Fair Oscars viewing party in March because “they wanted their table to be ‘most poppin,’” per a “Page Six” source. Most poppin’? Uno? Traditionally, the most poppin’ table at an Oscar party has something a little more illegal than home rules for a card game.

In June 2023 (three months after John and Chrissy’s poppin’ Oscars table), record exec Steve Stoute posted pics of his Uno game with Jay-Z and Beyoncé. Queen Bey isn’t playing pickleball; she’s drawing four. She was on tour but still made time for a quick hand or two of Uno. Then Questlove hosted an Uno party on July 13, 2023. Some thought it to be a “weed party,” since it took place in a private cannabis club, but it wasn’t. It was for Uno, and simply everyone was there. Or, at least, a very weird consortium of someones: Taylor Swift, Jason Sudeikis, Mike Birbiglia, and rapper Bun B. “I’ve only ever met 2 other people who make you feel this seen and heard in an interaction before and that’s @barackobama and @beyonce,” Bun B wrote of Swift on Instagram. “My question is does this make me a Swiftie?” More importantly, does this put Questlove in the pocket of Big Toy?

Uno is owned by Mattel, which is currently steaming ahead with Barbie promo despite a WGA-SAG joint strike. But as a recent New Yorker story brought to light, Barbie is only the beginning. Forty-five more Mattel movies are in the works, which may include the Uno heist movie that was announced in February 2021 with rapper Lil Yachty attached. “I played Uno as a kid and still do today, so to spin that into a movie based on the Atlanta hip-hop scene I came out of is really special,” Yachty told Variety at the time.

Are all these celeb Uno games laying the groundwork for that film? If so, Mattel would be shelling out insane amounts of money. These are some of the biggest celebrities on the planet. And also Mike Birbiglia. The combined net worth of all the stars who have been seen playing Uno lately could buy 646,000,000 packs of Uno at $6 apiece. (Fewer, if they bought the special-edition Barbie movie tie-in pack.) But really, they should treat themselves. So here’s who all has been playing Uno in 2023.

In her memoir, Down the Drain, Julia Fox spills on her brief relationship with Kanye West. She says he offered to buy her a boob job so that the clothes he picked for her would fit better, claims the relationship felt very one-sided and only for the camera, and also they played Uno. Their first date was spent in his hotel room, “playing Uno and a game that involves highlighting positive words in the dictionary and coming to the realization that there aren’t many.”

And this time, there was a mini Hamilton reunion. Don’t know how to say “Uno!” to this.

Are these star-studded Uno events meticulously planned spon leading up to an inevitable movie, or is it just a big multicolored coincidence? We will continue to monitor this very important story for updates.

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