Interesting Facts About Oprah Winfrey
10 Fascinating and Interesting Facts About Oprah Winfrey
Born on the 29th of January in 1954, Oprah Gail Winfrey is a name that almost everyone has heard of. Best known for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, she is considered the Queen of All Media and is the wealthiest African American of the 20th century. Yet, this fascinating woman was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. In fact, Oprah Winfrey’s life started in in rural Mississippi. Born to a single teenage mother, philanthropist, talk show host and American actress, Oprah Winfrey is the epitome of a go-getter. Struggling through poverty, sexual abuse and even suffering the loss of her child, Oprah has never given up, no matter what card she’s been dealt in life. Behind her glamorous TV appearance lies a complex character, who is the embodiment of resilience.
In this article, we’re going to reveal 10 fascinating and interesting facts about Oprah Winfrey, as we carefully unpick Oprah Winfrey’s life and discover her most incredible moments. So, whether you’re an Oprah Winfrey fan, or you’re looking for someone to look up to when life gets you down, this one is for you!
1: Oprah Is Pals With Nelson Mandela
A fun fact about Oprah Winfrey, is that she is close friends with the former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela. It was while sitting his Nelson Mandela’s living room, that Oprah decided to build a school specially for girls in South Africa. Inspired by Oprah Winfrey’s life and how difficult her childhood was, The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls opened in 2007, just outside Johannesburg. Oprah’s dream school took quite a while to construct. Work started in 2002, and over 5 years, the academy, consisting of 26 individual buildings was slowly built. With classrooms, dormitories, a dining hall, library and theatre, the academy’s first class graduated in 2011. (1)
2: Oprah Winfrey Lived Through Apartheid
A shocking and interesting fact about Oprah Winfrey is that she lived through apartheid in the United States. While growing up in Mississippi during the 1960s, Oprah was strictly segregated from other members of the community due to her skin colour. Racial lines and social segregation were very much alive in Mississippi while Orprah was a child, and violence towards African Americans was common. The Citizen’s Councils, a group of white men, from middle and upper class society in Mississippi were in power and shared the ideology of the Ku Klux Klan. (2)
3: Oprah Is Not Her Real Name
A fun fact about Oprah Winfrey is that this self-made billionaire almost changed her name twice. Born, Orpah, not Oprah, the TV host chose to switch the second and third letters of her first name around to make it easier for people to say. However, her name was almost changed a second time, when a producer suggested it would be better to use a more relatable name, like Suzie, to appeal to a wider audience. In fact, when former president of the United States, Barack Obama awarded Oprah Winfrey with the Medal of Freedom in 2013, he revealed that he too was once told to change his name.
4: Worth More Than Donald Trump
Oprah is incredibly influential and is richer than Donald Trump. Estimated to be worth a staggering $2.6 billion in 2020, thanks to her 25 year success hosting her very own TV show and careful investments, Oprah is estimated to be worth more than the former president of the United States. (3) This remarkable Oprah fact is shockingly different to her humble beginnings, where she recalls living in a boarding house with her mother and half-sister Patricia and relying on welfare. (4)
5: A Victim Of Sexual Abuse
Oprah Winfrey’s life growing up was unsettled, uncertain and incredibly sad. Oprah had a complicated and often difficult relationship with her mother, and felt her mother’s absence in her life while growing up, led to her feeling abandoned as a child. Dealing with loneliness and a sense of detachment from her mum, was not the only trauma and emotional turbulence in her early years. At 9 years old, Oprah’s 19 year old cousin raped her. Following this, she was also abused by her uncle and family friend. (5)
6: Pageant Queen Winner
Brains, business sense and beauty. An interesting fact about Oprah Winfrey is that she was a beauty pageant winner. After her return to Nashville, from the White House Conference on Youth in Colorado in 1971, Oprah was asked to appear on the radio. The station then asked her to represent them in the Miss Fire Prevention Beauty Pageant. Beating the competition, Oprah became the very first African-American to win. The 17 year old was shocked to win, and was given a Longines watch, a digital clock radio and her first broadcasting job. Perhaps this was the moment, Oprah’s life changed forever. (6)
7: Oprah’s Biggest Stunt Was A Bad Decision
The Oprah Winfrey Show is known for elaborate surprises and expensive giveaways but in 2004, Oprah made one of her most memorable TV shows, and gifted every single member of her audience with a brand new Pontiac. A shocking 276 brand new vehicles were given away on the 19th season premiere of the show. However, the seemingly incredible PR stunt for Pontiac backfired. Oprah nor her production team paid for the vehicles, and Pontiac took a massive hit ($10 million to be precise) after back and forth conversations with The Oprah Winfrey Show. While you’d think this generous gesture, along with the popularity of the show would boost Pontiac sales, this went wrong pretty fast. Many members of the audience chose to sell their cars instead of drive them, and over the next couple of years, the Pontiac brand went down. Plus, moving forward, Oprah’s audience members weren’t as impressed by small surprises anymore. (7)
8: Believes Marriage Ruins Relationships
An interesting fact about Oprah Winfrey is that she is still and will likely remain engaged, but never wed. In an interview with People’s Magazine, Oprah explains that she chose not to marry and not to become a mother. With no regret about her life choices, Oprah said that after working on her TV show for so many years, she realised just how much responsibility and sacrifice motherhood would require, and she wouldn’t want to let down her future children by not being there for them. As for a white dress, Oprah claims that if she would have married her partner Graham, she truly believes that they would have separated by now. (8)
9: Oprah Was Once A Mother
Although Oprah has no living children, she was once a mother. While only 14 years old, and after suffering sexual abuse, Oprah Winfrey gave birth to a premature baby boy. Sadly the boy died a few weeks later in hospital, and Oprah didn’t have a chance to give him a name. However, during an interview in Australia, the talk show host discussed her painful past and during the interview gave her son a name. Canaan, to represent new land or new life. Oprah Winfrey’s painful experience could have been another reason why she chose to mother the nation and support girls from similar backgrounds to her, rather than become a mother again herself. (9)
10: High Risk For Covid-19
After returning from a trip overseas, Oprah had a serious health scare when she was diagnosed with Pneumonia. Opening up about her health problems on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, since Oprah’s lungs were both infected, the condition was life-threatening. Given antibiotics to treat the condition, it was a huge shock when the medication didn’t fight off the infection, forcing her to seek specialist help.Due to her medical history and age, Oprah is now likely to be considered a high risk for Covid-19. (10)