Oprah Winfrey racism incident ‘not true’

While Oprah Winfrey is one of the most well-known and recognizable faces in North America, it seems in Switzerland that’s not the case. The billionaire media mogul was in Zurich for Tina Turner’s wedding in late July and says she was a victim of racism. Oprah went into high end store Trois Pommes and asked to see a $38,000 Tom Ford crocodile skin bag, but the sales associate refused. Oprah asked again and the woman replied, “No no no, you don’t want to see that one, you want to see this one, because that one will cost too much and you will not be able to afford that.” “One more time I tried — I said, ‘But I really do just want to see that one,’ and she said, ‘I don’t want to to hurt your feelings,'” Oprah recounted to Entertainment Tonight. The star, whose personal fortune is estimated at $2.8 billion by Forbes, left the store without making a purchase or a fuss, telling the employee, “Okay, thank you so much, you’re probably right, I can’t afford it” and walked out of the store.

The store employee recently spoke out, telling a different version of the story Oprah relayed. “I simply told her that it was like the one I held in my hand, only much more expensive, and that I could show her similar bags. It is absolutely not true that I declined to show her the bag on racist grounds,” she told Swiss newspaper SonntagsBlick. “I even asked her if she wanted to look at the bag. She looked around the store again but didn’t say anything else. Then she went with her companion to the lower floor. My colleague saw them to the door. They were not even in the store for five minutes.”

The store’s manager backed up her associate, telling CNN that the entire incident was a “200 percent misunderstanding” and had nothing to do with racism. ~Naomi Leanage

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Comments & Discussion

  1. Liana C • August 12, 2013 @ 2:39 PM

    On several occasions while traveling through Switzerland with Mexican friends, we were regularly and with a fair amount of hostility treated poorly. Often we would not be served at restaurants, and on more than one occasion, my friends were not attended to in stores. While we weren’t in upscale stores like Oprah, nevertheless, it was clear that one’s skin color definitely had an impact on service. So pretending that this was a “misunderstanding” is a colossal cover up of an underlying attitude towards those who are not white as snow.

  2. Janet • August 12, 2013 @ 3:09 PM

    Oprah’s not a meek person. I don’t know why she didn’t just say, Show me the damn purse. Unless she wanted to punish the store for hiring a racist.

  3. Slim • August 12, 2013 @ 3:44 PM

    I think Oprah is so used to people bending over backwards for her in North America, that when she encounters the “rude” European, that she automatically thinks they’re being racist.
    This isn’t the first time she’s made this claim while overseas; and it probably won’t be the last.

  4. Checkit • August 13, 2013 @ 3:49 PM

    Always 3 versions. Both stories and the truth.

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