How I got T-Mobile's CEO kicked out of AT&T's CES party

T-Mobile's attempt to crash AT&T's developer party was foiled by an innocent tweet from this reporter.

Roger Cheng Former Executive Editor / Head of News
Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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  • SABEW Best in Business 2011 Award for Breaking News Coverage, Eddie Award in 2020 for 5G coverage, runner-up National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Award for culture analysis.
Roger Cheng
2 min read
CNET's Roger Cheng with T-Mobile CEO John Legere at AT&T's CES party Monday night. CNET

LAS VEGAS -- Well, that was a surreal series of events.

I was on my way to AT&T's developer party, held as a cap off to its developer conference held in conjunction to the Consumer Electronics Show, when I ran into a familiar face at the Palms taxi line: T-Mobile CEO John Legere.

Legere, wearing a leather jacket over his trademark pink T-Mobile T-shirt, was accompanied by an entourage, including Chief Financial Officer Braxton Carter.

Their goal: Crash AT&T's party and watch Macklemore and Ryan Lewis perform.

After getting in without any problems, Legere and I stopped to take a snapshot and I tweeted it out.

About 15 minutes later, several security guards surrounded Legere and escorted him out of the venue.

To say that this is competition getting extremely fierce would be an understatement. Around that time, AT&T's own mobility CEO, Ralph de la Vega, announced that his company had won the rights to provide LTE connection to Audi, snatching away a cellular contract previously struck with T-Mobile.

While Legere claimed he was attending for the music, it's more likely he was looking for the kind of outcome where he was going to be kicked out. AT&T, alerted to his presence at the party, had him removed.

He undoubtedly would have tweeted about it, and indeed did after the incident. But he also had the luck of meeting this reporter, who inadvertently helped expedite the process.

It's the latest stunt by Legere, who has been prone to bold words and action when it comes to needling his competitors -- particularly AT&T.

T-Mobile is expected to make more noise on Wednesday when it holds its press conference to announce "Uncarrier 4.0." Legere teased it would give T-Mobile the edge to "crush the competition," and said it would go further than AT&T's offer of a $200 break to T-Mobile customers switching over. He declined to spill the beans at the party.

If nothing else, Legere has amped up the expectations for Wednesday's press conference.

So was it shrewd marketing or just a genuine love of the artist? One can't really say for sure.

One thing is certain: It made for a memorable night. And all this before Macklemore got on stage.

Legere, however, did actually get in through legitimate means. Legere and his crew got their passes from Macklemore's agent.

Just another night at CES, I guess.