Media mogul Oprah Winfrey has been making headlines after coming out to speak about receiving racist comments at a high-end Swiss boutique. Oprah Winfrey told Nancy O'Dell on Entertainment Tonight that she asked to see a crocodile skin bag and was told that it costs too much and that the billionaire would not be able to afford it. The bag is reportedly a $38,000 Tom Ford bag.
"I was in Zurich the other day at a store whose name I will not mention. I didn't have my eyelashes on, but I was in full Oprah Winfrey gear. I had my little Donna Karan skirt and sandals, but obviously The Oprah Winfrey Show is not shown in Zurich," said Oprah Winfrey. "I go into a store and say to the woman, 'Excuse me, may I see that bag over your head?' and she says to me 'No, it's too expensive.'"
"I said, 'But I really do just want to see that one,' and she said, 'I don't want to to hurt your feelings,' and I said, 'Ok thank you so much, you're probably right, I can't afford it' and walked out of the store. Now why did she do that?"
In response to the public outrage, boutique owner Trudie Goetz has come out in defense of the sales associate stating that the entire debacle is one big misunderstanding.
"Mrs. Oprah said she just wanted to look at the bag, she didn't want it taken down, and because my sales assistant felt a little embarrassed about the price, she quickly said that she also had the model in other materials such as ostrich and suede, which weren't so expensive," said Trudie Goetz. "This had nothing whatsoever to do with racism. Who wouldn't want to sell a bag like that? My saleswoman just wanted to do her best. She feels very bad because she feels the way it's being represented is very unfair."
But now the sales associate has reportedly spoken to Sunday newspaper SonntagsBlick saying that she feels "powerless" after Oprah Winfrey went on TV to claim she was a victim of racism.
"I wasn't sure what I should present to her when she came in on the afternoon of Saturday July 20 so I showed her some bags from the Jennifer Aniston collection," said the associate anonymously to the paper. "I explained to her the bags came in different sizes and materials, like I always do."
"She looked at a frame behind me. Far above there was the 35,000 Swiss franc crocodile leather bag. I simply told her that 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. I even asked her if she wanted to look at the bag," adds the associate. "She looked around the store again but didn't say anything else. Then she went with her companion to the lower floor. My colleague saw them to the door. They were not even in the store for five minutes."
The associate, who admits she did not know who Oprah Winfrey was in the store, argues that if it was such a big deal, why did she not bring it up immediately and later bring it up on national television?
"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," recalls the associate. "I didn't know who she was when she came into the store. That wouldn't have made any difference if I had."
Could it be that the associate's intentions were lost in translation? Or is this a massive cover-up after a racist encounter?