Oprah Winfrey Apologizes for Naming Switzerland in Racist Encounter Over a $38,000 Bag

So...all's forgiven?
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Hayley Phelan
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So...all's forgiven?
Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

By now you've probably heard about Oprah Winfrey's Pretty Woman moment in Switzerland--and all the outrage and apologies that ensued because of it. (A Pretty Woman moment only in that a sales associate missed out on a major commission--not, um, that Oprah is a hooker.)

But just in case you somehow missed it, here's a recap: Oprah recently told Entertainment Tonight that "racism still exists," and pointed to an experience she had in a Zurich store. She was shopping in a high-end boutique and asked the sales clerk to show her a handbag; the sales clerk, who obviously did not recognized the media mogul, refused to let her see it, saying it was too expensive and she could not afford it. (FYI the handbag cost $38,000; a Swiss newspaper identified it as Tom Ford, though it's not confirmed).

"Obviously, The Oprah Winfrey Show is not shown in Zurich," Winfrey said. That may be true, but it looks like they do watch Entertainment Tonight.

Shortly after Winfrey's comments, the country's tourism officials apologized for the clerk's behavior.

"We are very sorry for what happened to her," Daniela Baer, a spokeswoman for the tourism office, told the AP. The tourism office also posted an apology on Twitter, saying, “This person acted terribly wrong.”

Then the boutique owner came forward to explain that it was all a misunderstanding. “I have to admit that the employee is Italian. Of course, she speaks English, but not as well as her mother tongue,” Trudie Goetz, who owns the boutique, said in a video interview on a Swiss news site. “It was a real misunderstanding.”

Now, Winfey has released an apology of her own.

"I think that incident in Switzerland was just an incident in Switzerland," Winfrey said last night at the premier of The Butler (via the AP). "I'm really sorry that it got blown up. I purposefully did not mention the name of the store. I'm sorry that I said it was Switzerland."

In a tweet sent on Friday, Winfrey also admitted that, actually, the bag was too expensive anyway. ".@NancyODell Turns out that store clerk did me a favor. Just found out that bag was $38K!!! She was right I was NOT going to buy it.”

So...all's forgiven?