When multi-media mogul and gagillionaire Oprah Winfrey appeared on Entertainment Tonight and shared her experience with racism in Zurich, Switzerland, the internet literally exploded.
As previously reported by NewsOne, Winfrey visited the posh shop Trois Pommes while in Switzerland for Tina Turner‘s wedding. While perusing their selection — because gagillionaires don’t merely “browse” — a clerk allegedly refused to show her a $38,000 handbag, telling her that it was too expensive.
“She said: `No, no, no, you don’t want to see that one. You want to see this one. Because that one will cost too much; you will not be able to afford that,’” Winfrey said. “And I said, `Well, I did really want to see that one.’ And she refused to get it.”
Before you could say “Harpo,” she received an international apology from the Swiss office of Tourism, which was beside itself with worry over the incident:
“We are very sorry for what happened to her, of course, because we think all of our guests and clients should be treated respectfully, in a professional way,” Daniela Baer, a spokeswoman for the Swiss tourism office, told The Associated Press.
The tourism office also posted an apology on Twitter, saying, “This person acted terribly wrong.”
In an anonymous interview with Sunday newspaper SonntagsBlick, the “shop girl” said that Winfrey is “cannibalizing” her in the media:
This is not true. This is absurd. I would never say something like that to a customer. Really never. Good manners and politeness are the Alpha and the Omega in this business.
I don’t know why she is making these accusations. She is so powerful and I am just a shop girl.
I didn’t hurt anyone. I don’t know why someone as great as her must cannibalize me on TV.
If it had all taken place as she claimed, why has she not complained the next day at the wedding of Tina Turner with Trudie Goetz, my boss? She was there also at the Turner wedding as a guest. I don’t understand it.
I spoke to Oprah Winfrey in English. My English is okay but not excellent, unfortunately.
I didn’t know who she was when she came into the store. That wouldn’t have made any difference if I had.
According to Gawker, the clerk insists that racism did not play a role in her interaction with Winfrey:
“I explained to her the bags come in different sizes and materials, like I always do,” she said. “She looked at a frame behind me. Far above there was the 35,000 Swiss franc crocodile leather bag. I simply told her 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…This is not true. This is absurd. I would never say something like that to a customer.”
While the rich and famous argued over rich and famous things, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry mocked Winfrey’s purse dilemma:
“Denied her right to buy a $38,000 handbag! The outrage!…This particular slight might be well categorized as #one-percenter problems.”
With biting hilarity, Harris-Perry unveiled “The Nerdland’s Guide to Other Things That Oprah Winfrey Could Buy With $38,000,” which included a three-bedroom, 2 bath, family home in Buffalo, New York, a year of tuition for the show’s intern, a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, 30 months of food for a family of four, and a “stunning” 11 years of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits.
She ends her remarks with a hilarious “fight back, spend that money on something better than purse. The struggle continues.”
See Harris-Perry’s “Nerdland’s Guide to Other Things That Oprah Winfrey Could Buy With $38,000″ below: