20 iconic photos of the early 2000s, from power couples and bold fashion statements to history-making moments

Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake jean outfits
Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake at the AMAs in 2001.
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In the 2000s, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were the power couple no one could get enough of.

Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston in 2001
Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston at the premiere of "Rock Star" in September 2001.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The pair met in 1994 after being introduced by their managers. In September 1999, Aniston and Pitt made their debut as a couple, and less than a year later, they tied the knot in Malibu, California, in a ceremony attended by 200 guests.

In the early 2000s, Pitt and Aniston were the power couple of Hollywood. However, that would soon change after Pitt and Angelina Jolie met on the set of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" in May 2004. Soon, the world was buzzing with the rumors about Pitt and Jolie's relationship.

In October 2005, Aniston and Pitt finalized their divorce. In April of that year, Pitt and Jolie were photographed on vacation together in Kenya looking very much a couple. They later married but are now going through a divorce.

Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake were another power couple that dominated the pop culture scene in the early 2000s.

Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake jean outfits
Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake at the AMAs in 2001.
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The pair was first linked in 1999 when they were arguably at the height of their pop careers. Though Spears and Timberlake only lasted until 2002, they made headlines throughout their relationship and were fondly referred to as pop's prince and princess. 

Perhaps no style moment of the 2000s is more iconic than when Britney and Justin showed up at the AMAs in 2001 wearing matching denim ensembles. Timberlake apparently still approves of the look, saying "you could kinda rock that today" during a March 2020 interview on "The Daily Popcast."

Talking of fashion moments, early 2000s style included a lot of Juicy Couture, low-rise jeans, and oversized sunglasses.

paris hilton and nicky hilton in 2008
Paris Hilton and Nicky Hilton in 2008.
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Early aughts fashion trends were all about being equal parts sexy and comfortable. Low-rise jeans, cropped shirts, and high-heeled flip-flops were all popular, while brands like Juicy Couture and Von Dutch, as well as high-end designers like Louis Vuitton, Coach, and Alexander McQueen, were in vogue.

The rise of paparazzi photographers in the early 2000s, who primarily made their money on "just like us" photos, meant that the decade's most famous celebrities were constantly being photographed in the latest trends.

Many early 2000s fashion trends are now back in style, dubbed "Y2K" fashion.

The first cell phone with a built-in camera became widely available in 2002.

woman holding J-SH53 mobile phone in 2003
The mobile phone J-SH53 in 2003.
YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images

The first camera phone models included the J-SH04, the Nokia 7650, and the Sanyo SPC-5300, according to CBC. The first camera phones had fewer capabilities compared to the camera phones of today. Pictures were of low quality and often limited to 500 pixels or less.

Today, phone cameras have capabilities that rival DSLR and other traditional cameras.

Mark Zuckerberg launched "The Facebook," which he built inside his Harvard dorm, on February 4, 2004.

Mark Zuckerberg pictured on the harvard university campus in 2004
Mark Zuckerberg photographed at Eliot House at Harvard University on May 14, 2004.
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While studying at Harvard University, Zuckerberg was approached by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss to help them build a social network site. Zuckerberg would go on to create his own social network site, then called TheFacebook, for Harvard students. In his sophomore year, he dropped out of college to pursue Facebook full-time. 

Facebook is valued at a record-breaking $1 trillion as of June 2021.

Apple released the first iPhone in 2007.

steve jobs holding the first iphone
Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds up the new iPhone at Macworld on January 9, 2007.
David Paul Morris/Getty Images

The slogans for the first iPhone included "This is only the beginning" and "Apple reinvents the phone." The phone was revolutionary in that it combined a cell phone with Apple's iPod technology.

The phone also offered "breakthrough Internet communications" — iPhone users could access "desktop-class" email, web browsing, searching, and maps all through one device.

Janet Jackson had an infamous wardrobe malfunction while performing with Justin Timberlake at Super Bowl XXXVII.

Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake performing at the superbowl in 2004
Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake perform at half-time at Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium, on February 1, 2004, in Houston, Texas.
Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images

Another memorable Justin Timberlake moment — though, perhaps for the wrong reasons — was his performance with Janet Jackson at Super Bowl XXXVIII on February 1, 2004. 

During the halftime show, Timberlake joined Jackson on stage for a performance of "Rock Your Body." As Timberlake sang the final line — "I'm gonna have you naked by the end of this song" — he pulled off a part of Jackson's costume, accidentally revealing part of the singer's breast. The moment, which lasted less than a second, resulted in the Federal Communications Commission fining CBS a record $550,000 for the incident. However, the fine was later voided.

Still today, the incident is widely talked about. "Wardrobe malfunction" was even added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

In February 2021, Timberlake apologized for his part in the incident, writing on Instagram, "I am deeply sorry for the times in my life where my actions contributed to the problem, where I spoke out of turn, or did not speak up for what was right. I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism."

He added: "I specifically want to apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually, because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed."

Mariah Carey swept the 48th Annual Grammy Awards in 2006.

Mariah Carey holding her multiple grammys in 2006
Mariah Carey at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards in 2006.
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty Images

Mariah Carey's 2005 album "The Emancipation of Mimi" was the biggest-selling album in 2005 and led to Carey being nominated for multiple Grammy awards. The album yielded two No. 1 songs, "Don't Forget About Us" and "We Belong Together," which held the top spot for 14 weeks.

Carey won three Grammys for "The Emancipation of Mimi" — best female R&B vocal performance, best R&B song, and best contemporary R&B album.

Lady Gaga broke out onto the scene in 2008 with her debut album "The Fame."

Lady Gaga wearing red lace outfit at the 2009 vmas
Lady Gaga accepts the award for "Best New Artist" from Eminem during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.
Christopher Polk/Getty Images

The album reached No. 1 in Austria, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, and the UK, and made it into the top five in the US and Australia. The album's first two singles, "Just Dance" and "Poker Face," were both extremely popular in the United States and internationally. "Poker Face" reached No. 1 in the United States and was the world's best-selling single of 2009

In 2009, Lady Gaga was awarded the best new artist award at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. In 2010, "The Fame" won the Grammy award for best electronic/dance album and was nominated for album of the year.

Reality TV reached new heights in the 2000s. In 2002, the very first episode of "The Bachelor" premiered.

the bachelor premiere in 2002
The first episode of "The Bachelor."
Craig Sjodin/Walt Disney Television/Getty Images

Featuring first-ever bachelor Alex Michel, the series premiered on March 25, 2002. Twenty-five contestants appeared on the show, with 23-year-old Amanda Marsh named the winner. However, unlike other seasons of The Bachelor, no proposal occurred. Instead, Michel and Marsh decided to date after the show ended. 

The pair were together for nearly a year before breaking up. Marsh is now married and works as a registered nurse, while Michel is also married with children, he told Us Weekly in July 2020.

In the years since, there have been a total of 25 seasons of "The Bachelor," with multiple spin-off shows.

"Lost" also premiered in the early 2000s.

lost cast season one
The cast of "Lost" attend the premiere of the show in 2004.
Marco Garcia/Getty Images

"Lost" has been regularly called one of the best television shows of all time by fans and critics. The show's first season, which premiered on September 22, 2004, was an instant hit. According to ABC Medianet, the first season had an average of 16 million viewers per episode.

"Gilmore Girls" celebrated its 100th episode on January 31, 2005.

gilmore girls 100 episode celebration with the full cast
The cast of "Gilmore Girls" celebrates the show's 100th episode in 2005.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

"Gilmore Girls" debuted on October 5, 2000. Fewer than five years later, the show celebrated its 100th episode after five successful seasons. Even 20 years since the show premiered — and 13 years since it went off the air — "Gilmore Girls" continues to have an enduring, passionate fan base. 

In 2016, Netflix revived the show with the miniseries "Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life."

"Keeping Up With the Kardashians" premiered on October 9, 2007.

the kardashian family and caitlyn jenner attend the keeping up with the kardashians premiere in 2007
Khloe Kardashian, Caitlyn Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Kris Jenner, and Kourtney Kardashian at the "Keeping up with the Kardashians" premiere in 2007.
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Kris Jenner claims she came up with the idea for the show with the intent of publicizing the family's chain of boutiques. However, the show almost didn't end up on E! Network, according to Insider. Executives at the media company originally passed on the idea, but family friend and long-time TV producer Ryan Seacrest convinced the network otherwise.

The final episode of "KUWTK" aired in June 2021 after 14 years and 19 seasons on the air.

In the early 2000s, there were also multiple moments in US politics that captured the world's attention. George W. Bush was sworn in as president in 2001.

george w bush is sworn in as president on january 20, 2001
George W. Bush is sworn in on January 20, 2001.
Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis/Getty Images

On January 20, 2001, George W. Bush was sworn in after a controversial election. Bush was declared the winner against his opponent in the 2000 election, Al Gore, after the Supreme Court decided 5-4 to end a recount in Florida. The decision resulted in Bush winning the state by just 537 votes and, with it, Florida's 25 electoral votes. 

George W. Bush would go on to serve two terms as president. 

In a now-famous photograph, President Bush received the news about the 9/11 terrorist attacks while visiting an elementary school.

President George W. Bush learns of the 9/11 attacks.
President George W. Bush receiving the news about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Doug Mills/AP

George W. Bush's presidency is arguably best known for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which took place not even one year into Bush's first term, and the resulting war on terror.

In this iconic photograph, taken at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, on the morning of September 11, 2001, the president's chief of staff Andrew Card informs President George W. Bush of the attacks.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks claimed more than 2,500 lives.

the twin towers smoking on 9/11
The Twin Towers up in smoke on September 11, 2001.
Robert Giroux/Getty Images

Of the lives lost that day, 343 were New York City firefighters, 23 were New York City police officers, and 37 were officers at the Port Authority, according to CNN.

The North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City was struck by Flight 11 at 8:46 a.m. ET and collapsed at 10:28 a.m. ET. The South Tower was hit by Flight 175 at 9:03 a.m. and collapsed within the hour.

Former US President Ronald Reagan died on June 5, 2004, in Bel Air, California, at the age of 93.

nancy reagan touches the coffin of her husband ronald reagan during the former presidents funeral
Former first lady Nancy Reagan touches the casket of her husband during his state funeral on Capitol Hill on June 9, 2004.
Peter Jones-Pool/Getty Images

On June 5, 2004, Ronald Reagan passed away after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's disease, which the former president was diagnosed with nearly a decade prior. Following his death, Reagan's casket was brought to Washington, DC to lie in state for two days.

A state funeral was held at Washington's National Cathedral, the first such ceremony to be held in more than three decades, CNN reported at the time.

At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, Usain Bolt of Jamaica broke a world record in the 100-meter male sprinting event.

usain bolt reacts to breaking world record at beijing olympics
Usain Bolt of Jamaica reacts after breaking the world record to win the gold medal in the Men's 200m Final.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Bolt won the gold medal and broke a world record with a time of 9.69 seconds. One year later, at the 2009 world championships, Bolt broke his own 100-meter record after winning the event final in 9.58 sec, according to Britannica.

In a case that gripped the country, former Illinois policeman Drew Peterson was charged with murdering his third wife and was named a suspect in the disappearance of his fourth wife.

drew peterson leaving jail in 2008
Drew Peterson leaves the Will County Jail in his attorney's car in 2008.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

In October 2007, Drew Peterson's fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, mysteriously disappeared.

Shortly after her disappearance, the authorities decided to revisit the death of Peterson's third ex-wife, Kathleen Savio, who was found dead in the empty bathtub of her home, according to a local news station. At the time of Savio's death, she and Peterson were divorced but still working out a property dispute. Her death was initially ruled an accident and no charges were filed.

However, when the police were informed that another of Peterson's spouses had disappeared, an extensive investigation into Savio's death was conducted. The former officer was then charged and convicted of killing Savio. At the time of Drew Peterson's conviction, Stacy Peterson's body had not been found and he remained a suspect in her disappearance. Peterson's body has not been located to this day.

Drew Peterson was later convicted of arranging a hit murder on Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow, a prosecutor in his case. Peterson is serving 38 years in prison for the murder of Savio, plus 40 years in prison for his murder-for-hire conviction. 

At the end of the decade, Barack Obama became the first Black man to be sworn in as president of the United States.

president obama and michelle obama share a slow dance at obama's first inauguration
Barack Obama and Michelle Obama dance at the Inaugural Ball on January 20, 2009, in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

History was made on January 20, 2009, when Senator Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. His inauguration was one of the most-watched inaugural events in history, both through in-person attendance and television and internet viewership. 

At the inaugural ball, held on the night of June 20, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama danced to "At Last" by Etta James, performed by Beyoncé.

SEE ALSO: 50 iconic photos of the 1970s, from the 'Battle of the Sexes' to the breakup of The Beatles

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