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Hollywood is convinced her decision was all about the bottom line. (After all local TV stations were ready to balk at paying any more cash raises for more seasons of her syndicated daytime talk show.) But this morning, Oprah Winfrey held back tears but her voice was thick with emotion as she told her studio audience in Chicago that she would end The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2011:
Here are here remarks, which came at the end of Friday’s show:
“After much prayer, and months of careful thought, I’ve decided that next season — Season 25 — will be the last season of The Oprah Winfrey Show. And over the next couple of days, you may hear a lot of speculation in the press about why I am making this decision now, and that will mostly be conjecture. So I wanted you to hear this directly from me.
“Twenty-four years ago, on Sept. 8, 1986, I went live from Chicago to launch the first national “Oprah Winfrey Show.” I was beyond excited and as you all might expect, a little nervous. I knew then what a miraculous opportunity I had been given, but I certainly never could have imagined the yellow brick road of blessings that have led me to this moment with you. [Her voice grows thick with emotion] These years with you, our viewers, have enriched my life beyond all measure, and you all have graciously invited me into your living rooms, into your kitchens and into your lives.
“And for some of you longtime Oprah viewers, you have literally grown up with me. We’ve grown together. You’ve had your families and you’ve raised your children and you left a spot for me in your morning or your afternoon, depending on when the Oprah show airs in your town. So I just wanted to say that whether you’ve been here with me from the beginning or you came on board last week, I want you all to know that my relationship with you is one that I hold very dear, and your trust in me — the sharing of your precious time with me every day — has brought me the greatest joy I have ever known.
“So here we are, halfway through Season 24 and it still means as much to me to spend an hour with you as it did back in 1986. So why walk away and make next season the last? Here is the real reason. I love this show. This show has been my life. And I love it enough to know when it’s time to say goodbye. Twenty-five years feels right in my bones and feels right in my spirit. It’s the perfect number. The exact right time. …
“So I hope that you will take this 18-month ride with me, right through to the final show.”
She did not mention her Discovery cable Oprah Winfrey Network, OWN.