Oprah for President? Five Reasons It Could Happen in 2020


Oprah Winfrey accepts the 2018 Cecil B. DeMille Award during the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 7, 2018, in Beverly Hills, California. Her speech had several fans wondering if she'd run for president. Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Although she's said in the past, she'd never do it, Oprah Winfrey's electrifying speech at the 75th Golden Globe Awards left many wondering (hoping?) she'll run for president of the United States in 2020. The last line in her speech "A new day is on the horizon," sure sounds like a good campaign slogan. Here are five reasons Oprah might really run for president this time.

1. No Political Experience Necessary.

If Donald Trump's presidency has taught us anything, it's that lack of political experience is no obstacle to holding the top job in America. Winfrey noticed that too after Trump's election. "I thought [at first], 'Oh gee, I don't have the experience, I don't know enough.' And now I'm thinking, 'Oh. Oh!'" she said in March 2017, during an interview with David Rubenstein on Bloomberg.

2. She's Already Proven She Can Move Mountains.

Companies already know an endorsement from Winfrey is worth more than its weight in gold. Getting a book selected for her book club makes it a guaranteed best-seller. For instance, "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy sold just 156,000 units before being selected for Oprah's Book Club in 2007. Afterward, it sold 1.4 million units. "Oprah's Favorite Things," a list of Oprah-approved gifts that appeared on her talk show — and now in her magazine, O — also generates huge profits for the selected products.

Winfrey's negative opinions have major consequences, too. Back in 1995, during an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" about mad cow disease, Winfrey mentioned that she would stop eating hamburgers after a guest said that feeding processed livestock to cattle had been linked to mad cow disease in Europe. A group of Texas cattle producers claimed her comments caused beef prices to tumble and cost them $12 million. They sued her for libel, but she won.

However, Winfrey endorsed both Barack Obama (who won the presidency) and Hillary Clinton (who lost), so her endorsement doesn't mean automatic success.

3. Money Is No Obstacle.

Nowadays, you need a lot of money to run for political office. (The Clinton and Trump campaigns in 2016 together spent $1.16 billion.) And Winfrey is no slouch in that department. Forbes estimated her worth at $2.8 billion in early 2018. The publication also listed her as the wealthiest female celebrity for 2017 (the wealthiest celebrity was George Lucas, worth $5.5 billion). Most of that money comes from her long-running talk show, which ended in 2011. But she's also CEO of her own television network (OWN), a 10 percent shareholder in Weight Watchers, a correspondent for "60 Minutes" and an actress in numerous films. Not to mention her own magazine (which features her on the cover every month), inspirational books and podcasts. Most impressively, her wealth is self-created, as she came from humble circumstances.

4. She Is Almost Universally Beloved.

Like Trump, Winfrey is very well-known, even without a political stage. Unlike him, her approval ratings are sky-high. A March 2017 poll by Public Policy Polling showed Winfrey leading Trump 47 versus 40 percent in a hypothetical presidential matchup. She also had a favorability rating of 49 percent; Trump's was 43 percent.

Winfrey has appeared on several lists of the most admired or most influential people in the world. She is also well-known for her philanthropy, including her leadership academy for girls in South Africa; her $12 million donation to the Smithsonian African-American museum; and her $400 million to educational causes.

On the other hand, she had an unfavorability rating of 33 percent in the same Public Policy Polling survey, which means she'd have to overcome some resistance. Some might question her lack of political experience; others, her enthusiasm for New Age spirituality. Some racists might be unable to bring themselves to vote for a black (let alone black female) candidate. And would she have to marry longtime partner Stedman Graham to win over some conservative voters?

5. "Sources" Say She's Looking Into It.

After the Golden Globes speech, CNN reported unnamed "close friends" as saying that Winfrey is "actively thinking" about running for president, but hadn't made up her mind. Graham told the L.A. Times, "It's up to the people ... She would absolutely do it." However, during a brief backstage interview at the Globes, after being told Oprah2020 was trending on Twitter, Winfrey said that she did not plan to run. As to whether she means it, we'll just have to wait and see.


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