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Oprah, boosted by Weight Watchers stake, is richer than President Trump

·5 min read
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American media mogul Oprah Winfrey is suddenly the topic of intense speculation about a potential 2020 presidential run after dominating the Golden Globes on Sunday.

Fueling the intrigue is the fact that the cultural icon stacks up well with President Trump — himself of course a mogul and cultural icon — in one department where Trump considers particularly important.


In fact, according to Bloomberg, Oprah has recently passed POTUS.

Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey in 2004. (Image: Oprah Winfrey Network)
Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey in 2004. (Image: Oprah Winfrey Network)

Winfrey, 63, has a net worth of $3.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, boosted by a highly successful 10% investment in Weight Watchers. Trump, 71, is worth $2.9 billion, according to the same index — hurt by a drop in the value of three office properties in Manhattan.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index tracks the net worth of the world’s richest people. (In October 2017, Forbes estimated Winfrey’s net worth was $3 billion and Trump’s net worth was $3.1 billion.)

Trump, who has loudly touted his net worth over the years, claimed to be worth more than $10 billion in a personal disclosure form filed during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Oprah’s Weight Watchers stake

On Oct. 19, 2015, Weight Watchers disclosed that Winfrey had joined its board and purchased 6,363,103 shares — a 10% stake in the company — at an average price of $6.79 per share. The stock closed the next day up 105%, and has seen a more than 350% increase since the announcement.

Photo: Yahoo Finance
Photo: Yahoo Finance

Today, with the stock price (WTW) trading above $55, Winfrey’s stake is valued at about $349 million, meaning she has made approximately $306 million in paper gains. Additionally, as part of the partnership, Winfrey received 3.5 million vested stock options at an exercisable price of $6.97 per share. Weight Watchers, meanwhile, got royalty-free licensing for Winfrey’s name and image and endorsement of its programs and products.

‘A new day is on the horizon!’

Talk of “Oprah 2020” became a recurrent theme during and after Sunday’s award’s show. In his opening monologue, host Seth Meyers used some reverse psychology to hint at a surprise Winfrey POTUS bid.

“Oprah, while I have you, in 2011 I told some jokes about our current president at the White House Correspondents Dinner — jokes about how he was unqualified to be president — and some have said that night convinced him to run,” Meyers said. “So if that’s true, I just want to say: Oprah, you will never be president. You do not have what it takes.”

Later in the evening, Winfrey delivered an impassioned speech while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.”

“I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon!” Winfrey said during a speech at Sunday’s Golden Globes that instantly went viral. “And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight — and some pretty phenomenal men — fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say ‘Me too’ again.”

Oprah Winfrey speaks after accepting the Cecil B. Demille Award at the 75th Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Jan. 7, 2018. (Photo: Paul Drinkwater/Courtesy of NBC)
Oprah Winfrey speaks after accepting the Cecil B. Demille Award at the 75th Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Jan. 7, 2018. (Photo: Paul Drinkwater/Courtesy of NBC)

The speech immediately sparked Oprah 2020 chatter on Twitter.

“It’s up to the people,” Winfrey’s longtime partner, Stedman Graham, told the Los Angeles Times on Sunday night. “She would absolutely do it.”

Oprah subsequently denied the presidential speculation to Bloomberg, but people around her have continued to stoke the speculation. CNN’s Brian Stelter, citing two of Winfrey’s friends, reported that Winfrey was “actively thinking” about running for president.

CBS’s “This Morning co-host Gayle King, who is editor-at-large of Oprah magazine, said on Tuesday morning that Winfrey was “intrigued by the idea.” King, a close friend of Winfrey’s, also said: ”She loves this country, and would like to be of service in some way.”

‘I never considered the question’

Oprah has interviewed Trump multiple times, including a 1988 interview in which she asked him about how he would handle U.S. foreign policy. Oprah said that his answer “sounded like political presidential talk to me” and asked him whether he’d ever run for president.

Trump responded: “Probably not,” but later added, “If I did decide to do it … I’d say that I’d have a hell of a chance of winning.”

Winfrey was asked last year — during an episode of “The David Rubenstein Show” that aired in March 2017 on Bloomberg Television — whether she had ever thought about running for the office.

“I — I actually never thought that was. I never considered the question even a possibility,” Winfrey said. “I just thought, ‘Oh. Oh.’”

“Right, because it’s clear you don’t need government experience to be elected president of the United States, right?” Rubenstein added.

“That’s what I thought!” Winfrey responded. “I thought, ‘Oh gee, I don’t have the experience. I don’t know enough.’ Now, I’m thinking: ‘Oh. Oh.’”

And then there’s this: In a 1999 interview with Larry King, Trump said that his first choice for running mate would be … Oprah Winfrey.

Follow Michael B. Kelley on Twitter @MichaelBKelley and Julia La Roche on Twitter @SallyPancakes.

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