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Oprah

Everyone feels they already know Oprah. As with most people, when you look closely there’s more to see. She was born in 1954 in Kosciusko, Mississippi. Oprah Winfrey isn’t her real name. Well, not exactly. Her real name at birth was actually Orpah Winfrey. Orpah was a biblical name, but people kept pronouncing it Oprah. Eventually she gave in and just went by Oprah.

Oprah is certainly best known for her talk show. At first it was similar to a tabloid. Eventually she popularized her style of sincere and open interviews, which some refer to as “rapport talk”. She is known for being the Queen of All Media. Some also call Oprah the Empress of Empathy, due to her understanding and generosity.

It’s funny to compare this to Howard Stern being called the King of All Media, and being pretty much Oprah’s opposite. Some also call Oprah the Empress of Empathy, which Stern has nothing on.

Nicknames like this come from her enduring appeal, and her constant philanthropy. Her giving has been seen on the show most publicly. On a famous episode in 2004, she gave a small gift box to every member in the audience and told them that if your box has a key, you get one of the cars. Well, she was being tricky; every box had a key. The audience went wild as Oprah pointed at audience members and happily shouted “You get a car! You get a car! Everybody gets a car!”.

Her show is not the only way she has shown generosity. Less publicly she gives away enough to become the first black person on the top 50 most generous Americans in 2004. She stayed on this list until 2010, and by 2012 she had given almost a half a billion for educational charity.

Her opinion itself is so powerful that her influence is known as the “Oprah Effect”, and it gets applied to any product or market she is associated with. This effect is seen in simple things such as books in her Book Club. The effect is also seen in more wide-sweeping ways such as being sued by the beef industry over some comments during the Mad Cow outbreak. It is even seen in Oprah giving a boost to Obama’s campaign by endorsing him.

Oprah partnered with Weight Watchers in late 2015. She received over 6 million shares of the company right off the bat, and this was followed up by over 3 million more. In exchange for this huge chunk of equity in the company, she graced them with her Oprah Effect. At the time, the stock had been tanking. She brought it from well below $10 to the mid $20 range, an increase of over 250%! The price didn’t stay that high after the end of the year, but it never fell below $10 again. Even better, in 2017 the stock rallied strongly and jumped to over $40 a share.

Oprah showed amazing leadership and poise in promoting Weight Watchers. Her successes here and elsewhere have led to speculation that Oprah will run for president in 2020. This demonstrates the degree to which society thinks the utmost of Oprah. One can’t help but wonder if she will capitalize on this attention and truly end up running in that election. Perhaps the name Empress of Empathy will become more rooted in reality than anyone would have expected when they first used it. Perhaps if she does become president, we will hear “You get a car! You get a car! The entire country gets a car!!”.

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