Oprah Winfrey Reveals Why She Quit WeightWatchers Board of Directors

Entertainment mogul and TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey said she decided to exit the board of directors WeightWatchers — after nearly a decade — to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Last month, Winfrey announced that she will not stand for reelection to the board of WeightWatchers at the annual meeting of shareholders to be held in May 2024. She has served on the company’s board since 2015 when she acquired a 10% stake in WeightWatchers.

More from Variety

On Thursday’s episode of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”, Winfrey explained that her decision to part ways with WeightWatchers was due to her desire to “be able to talk about whatever I want to talk about” regarding weight-loss issues. Her exit from the company’s board came after she revealed in 2023 that she was taking a weight-loss drug.

Winfrey has set an hour-long ABC primetime special, titled “An Oprah Special: Shame, Blame and the Weight Loss Revolution,” scheduled to air Monday, March 18. She recorded the special in front of a live studio audience and brought together medical experts to discuss weight-loss drugs such as Ozempic, Mounjaro and Wegovy.

Winfrey told Kimmel, “I decided [to leave the WeightWatchers board] because this special was really important to me, and I wanted to be able to talk about whatever I want to talk about.” WeightWatchers “is now in the business of being a weight-health company that also administers drug medications for weight. I did not want to have the appearance of any conflict of interest.”

Last year, WeightWatchers acquired Sequence, a telehealth subscription service providing access to healthcare providers who can prescribe weight-loss drugs like Ozempic, for $106 million.

As previously announced, Winfrey is donating her WeightWatchers shares to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. She told Kimmel she was gifting her stock in the company to the organization “so nobody can say, ‘Oh, she’s doing that [ABC] special, she’s making money, and promoting…’ No, you cannot say that.”

In December 2023, Winfrey told People she had decided to start taking a weight-loss medication (which she did not identify) after coming to the realization that weight management does not depend solely on a person’s self-control.

Winfrey owns about 1.1 million shares of WW International, representing a 1.43% stake in the company, according to data provider FactSet. At the current stock price, that’s worth $2.5 million. Her initial investment for 6.4 million shares of the company totaled $43.2 million.

In a statement last month, the WeightWatchers board of directors said it is “supportive of Ms. Winfrey’s proposal to donate all of her WW stock to the NMAAHC during the company’s upcoming trading window in March 2024. Ms. Winfrey is making the donation to support the NMAAHC’s goal to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans and to eliminate any perceived conflict of interest around her taking weight-loss medications. In addition, Ms. Winfrey intends to donate the proceeds from any future exercises of her WW stock options to NMAAHC.”

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.