Kathie Lee Gifford To Leave ‘Today’ After 11 Years As Host

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Drinking wine at 10 a.m. will just never be the same!

It started out like any other morning would on the third hour of the Today Show, with Hoda and Kathie Lee sitting at a table with a glass of wine. But soon after the show began, Kathie Lee made an announcement to viewers that many were not expecting. An obviously emotional Gifford shared with fans that she will be leaving the show in April, on what would be her 11th anniversary on air.

“I have something to share with everybody, and it’s bittersweet, as these things always are. I’ve been here almost 11 years — thought I would stay here one year. Something happened along the way: I fell in love with a beautiful Egyptian goddess. And now, when it’s our 11th anniversary I’m going to be leaving the Today Show.”

The television personality went on to say that her decision to leave the show was not easy, especially because she loves everyone that she works with so much. In fact, Gifford says that she stayed much longer than she probably would have — just because she loves her co-workers and crew members so much. But as sad as her goodbye may be, Kathie Lee says that she is very excited for some upcoming projects and that it is an “exciting” time for her.

“I’ve been in this business for 120 years and never worked with a more beautiful group of people who just give, give, give every day,” the mother-of-two said.

She also continued by joking that the people which she works with have become a close-knit family — and that they basically know everything about each other, even when someone is getting a colonoscopy. And when it came time to salute her co-host and friend, Hoda Kotb, Kathie Lee became very emotional.

“And nobody more so than my Hoda, who [chokes up] — it’s going to happen the same way it did with Regis.”

Kathie Lee explained to viewers that she was with Regis for 15 years. After they stopped working together, she became even closer to him.

“You don’t share that kind of life together and not be changed forever by it. So, I love you Hoda Mama. First you were just Hoda. remember? You were always Coda to Regis. But you’re just so special. Thank you. Thank you so much,” she said to her co-host.

And when it finally came time for Hoda to talk about her good friend’s exit, she couldn’t help but choke back tears. Kotb said that the minute that Kathie Lee stepped into her life, everything changed — and when she was recently writing in her journal, she realized that the day Kathie Lee picked her to be co-host, everything in her life really started.

“I was even thinking about everything. I met Joel because I had to make a speech. Why did I have to make a speech? Because I worked here and because I worked with you. I wouldn’t have been there that day I met him. Haley came as a result of our union, me and Joel. Everything happened.”

Kotb then shared that Kathie Lee was the one person who stepped into her life and really just changed everything. When she was thinking about joining the Today Show, Hoda says that Kathie Lee was gracious enough to invite her to her home to meet her family. And from there, they formed a close bond — and centered their relationship on trust.

Now, the duo says that they do everything together. From lunch and Broadway matinees on Wednesdays, to coming together on Thanksgiving — even vacationing together. No word yet on who the replacement for Kathie Lee may be, but she does say that she has a few people in mind who she thinks would be great to fill her role.

Cheers to Kathie Lee and Hoda for brightening living rooms for their audience for nearly 11 years.