“I have something to share with everybody, and it’s bittersweet, as these things always are,” Gifford said on Tuesday’s broadcast, pointing to Kotb as she continued, “I’ve been here almost 11 years. Thought I would stay one year, but 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.”
She added: “It’s an exciting time for me, and I’m thrilled about all of the projects that are coming up. But it’s also hard, because the reason I stayed longer than a year is because I love everybody here so much.”
Kotb responded through tears, telling Gifford that “the minute you stepped into my life with both feet, everything changed.”
NBC News president Noah Oppenheim also addressed Gifford’s departure in a memo to staff on Tuesday, which was shared with our sister site Deadline:
When we first launched this incredible hour, no one could have predicted the lightning (or rather, wine) in a bottle that is Hoda and Kathie Lee. Whether in studio or on one of their many road trips, they have delighted our audience with their distinct brand of fun, friendship and adventure. During that time, Kathie Lee has cemented her status as one of the most enduring and endearing talents in morning television. In short – she is a legend.
Gifford will stay with Today through April, which will mark her 11th anniversary with the show. It’s not yet clear what will become of Today‘s 10 a.m. hour — Kotb also co-anchors the show’s first two hours with Savannah Guthrie and Craig Melvin — but Oppenheim said he will have “much more to share before [April] about our plans… which will, of course, continue to include Hoda.”
Watch Gifford’s emotional on-air announcement below: