Oprah Winfrey arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "Lee Daniels' The Butler".
Matt Sayles/Invision/AP Enlarge
LOS ANGELES — Oprah Winfrey says she’s “sorry” that a media frenzy emerged after saying she experienced racism during a trip to Switzerland.
“I think that incident in Switzerland was just an incident in Switzerland. 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,” Winfrey said Monday night at the Los Angeles premiere of Lee Daniels: The Butler.
“I was just referencing it as an example of being in a place where people don’t expect that you would be able to be there."
In a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight, Winfrey recalled a clerk at an upscale Zurich boutique refusing to show her a handbag. Winfrey said she was told she could not afford the $38,000 purse.
“I’m in a store and the person doesn’t obviously know that I carry the black card and so they make an assessment based upon the way I look and who I am,” said Winfrey, who earned $77 million in the year ending in June, according to Forbes magazine.
“I didn’t have anything that said ‘I have money.’ I wasn’t wearing a diamond stud. I didn’t have a pocketbook. I didn’t wear Louboutin shoes. I didn’t have anything,” Winfrey said on the red carpet. “You should be able to go in a store looking like whatever you look like and say, ‘I’d like to see this.’ That didn’t happen.”
Swiss tourism officials and the boutique owner apologized for the incident last week, but Winfrey insists there’s no need.