(Image Credit: Flickr/aphrodite-in-ny)
Date of Birth: 1954 in the United States
Place of Residence: Montecito, California
Net Worth: $2.7 Billion
Source of Wealth: Self-made CEO of Harpo Productions and Oprah Winfrey Network
Education: Tennessee State University- Studied communication.
Career: Former talk show host of the Oprah Winfrey Show, actress, and author.
Personal Website: Orpah.com
Political Position: Identifies as an independent, but through campaign donations and public statements she can be considered to be part of the Democratic Party.
In Her Own Words: The Oprah Winfrey Show ran a series in the early 2000’s that raised questions about the invasion in Iraq and if war was the only answer. The series was stopped after receiving harsh backlash.
“I once did a show titled Is War the Only Answer? In the history of my career, I’ve never received more hate mail — like ‘Go back to Africa’ hate mail. I was accused of being un-American for even raising the question.”
Electioneering: Oprah Winfrey has donated a total of $115 478 to candidates, according to the Federal Elections Committee. Although, this amount is small compared to other billionaires, Winfrey’s celebrity status allows for public endorsements of candidates to be much more effective.
Lobbying & Advocacy: Winfrey has been outspoken in calling for more gun control legislation, LGBT rights, freedom of the press and many other social issues. Find out more here.
Opinion Shaping: Oprah Winfrey had great control over shaping the opinions of her audience members as host of the Oprah Winfrey Show (her final episode had a viewership of 16.4 million) and has continued to shape the opinions of the public through her television network and host of a CBS 60 Minutes series which explored questions of a divided United States nation.
Controversy: Winfrey has been at the center of many controversies over the years. She has endorsed a fake book, mislead a cancer patient to treatment with no scientific basis and many others. With rumors of a 2020 presidential run, Winfrey’s non-political controversies could come back to haunt her. The Washington Post has summed these controversies up in this article.
Further Reading: Opensecrets.org article on Winfrey’s ties into politics.