25 Facts About Oprah Winfrey That Will Surprise You

As the world’s most celebrated talk show, millions of people have tuned in to the Oprah Winfrey show for decades. Even now she continues to attract viewers with her new show on OWN, the network she founded. Here are 25 facts about Oprah Winfrey that will surprise you.

  1. Her name isn’t really Oprah. Oprah’s mother gave her the biblical name “Orpah” but so few people pronounced it correctly that she became known as Oprah. 
  2. She is America’s richest self-made woman. All of America’s richer women either inherited or married into wealth.
  3. She’s not the world’s richest black woman. That title belongs to Angola’s Isabel dos Santos whose net worth is $3.9 Billion.
  4. Her Favorite Book is “To Kill A Mocking Bird”. An expanded list of favorites would also include Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth” and “Discover the Power Within You” by Eric Butterworth.
  5. Her childhood was very difficult. She grew up impoverished and was also molested.
  6.  She was a teen mom. Oprah has admitted that she gave birth to a baby boy when she was just fifteen. He was premature and only lived two weeks.
  7. She discovered she had a half sister as an adult. Patricia Lloyd realized she was Oprah’s half sister but keep the knowledge to herself for years to avoid creating damaging publicity for her.
  8. She faced discrimination from her family. Her mother gave preferential treatment to her lighter skinned family members.
  9.  She learned to read before she turned three. Oprah’s grandmother taught her how to read and write at age 2 and a half.
  10. She’s been with Stedman Graham since 1986. The couple got engaged in 1992 but decided against marrying.
  11. She has a great eye for talent. Oprah Winfrey is responsible for bringing a good few personalities into the public domain such as Dr. Phil McGraw, Iyanla Vanzant and Dr. Mehmet Oz.
  12. She can sing. In 1998 she sang her show’s theme song.
  13. At her heaviest she weighed 237 pounds. Oprah has been open about her struggles with weight gain and in 1992 she peaked at 237 pounds. She would eventually be diagnosed with hypothyroidism several years later and through diet and exercise has maintained a healthy weight.
  14. The Oprah Winfrey show has a look alike. China’s Chen Lu Yu hosts a strikingly similar show to Oprah’s. “A Date with Lu Yu” has over 140,000,000 viewers.
  15. President Clinton named a bill after her in 1993. The “Oprah Bill” makes abusers of children easier to locate through the creation of a database countrywide.
  16. Her first television gig ended very badly. Her bosses fired her for not being fit for television and she was devastated but she refused to give up on herself.
  17.  She chose not go up for any more Emmys. Her 1998 Lifetime Achievement Award was fulfilling enough for her to decide to pull her show out of the runnings for future Daytime Emmys. 
  18.  She won a scholarship. For placing first in an oratory contests she was awarded a scholarship which allowed her to major in Speech and the Performing Arts at Tennessee State.
  19. She has had her own celebrity crushes . These included Robert Duval and the Beatles’ Paul McCartney.
  20. She’s consistently influential. She has earned a spot on Time Magazine’s top 100 most influential people more times than any other person.
  21. She once dated Roger Ebert. Movie critic Roger Ebert want out on two dates with Oprah in the 80s and even convinced her to go into syndication.
  22. Her life inspired a best selling unauthorized biography. Written by Kitty Kelley, the book tells a very different story of Oprah’s life and personality suggesting that she never experienced the hardships she claims.
  23.  She is one of the founders of the Oxygen network. Most people are familiar with OWN as Oprah’s project after she retired her talk show but before that she had a hand in the founding of Oxygen.
  24. Her bookclub has significantly affected book sales. It is estimated that over 30,000,000 books have been sold as a direct result of Oprah’s influence.
  25. She’s a pageant winner. In 1971 she was crowned Miss Black Tennessee. 

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References:

Forbes (The ultimate site for billionaire rankings)

CelebrityNetWorth (The ultimate site for net worth of celebrities)

TheRichest (Great site for things about money and rich people)

Wikipedia (Greatest site on earth for lots of information)