It's not too clear how anyone living in 2013 and not under a rock can possibly not know who Oprah Winfrey is, but behold: Anything is possible. According to EW, Oprah recently revealed during an interview with Entertainment Tonight that she was the victim of racism during a trip to Zurich, Switzerland, where she was to attend her friend Tina Turner's wedding.
The incident reportedly took place at a shop in town, when Oprah asked to see a $38,000 handbag that was kept behind a screen. The shop assistant refused, and shockingly told Oprah, "you will not be able to afford that." So, basically, the entire thing was like a scene in Pretty Woman, only with Oprah instead of Julia Roberts. BIG MISTAKE. HUGE.
This despicable behavior shouldn't be tolerated with anyone, regardless of if they're Oprah or not. But for the record, Oprah made $77 million last year, so she could definitely afford that bag.
A spokesperson for the Swiss tourism office released a statement of apology through AP, saying, "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."
The owner of the Zurich shop, Trudie Goetz, apologized for her shop assistant's behavior as well, though hers was slightly more lackluster: She called the whole situation a "misunderstanding," and said that the assistant had shown Oprah a few other bags prior to refusing to show the $38,000 item. "I have to admit that the employee is Italian. Of course, she speaks English, but not as well as her mother tongue...it was a real misunderstanding." Goetz also commented she was "truly sorry" for the incident.
As EW points out, this isn't the first time Oprah has faced racism in the retail industry: In 2005, she was turned away from Hermès in Paris 15 minutes after closing time, and told the store was closed for a "private public relations event." Hermès subsequently sent a representative on Oprah's show to apologize for the "rigid and rude" behavior of the employee, and promised to put their employees through sensitivity training.