Oprah Says She Was “Victim of Racism” in Switzerland

The media mogul received an apology from the Swiss tourism office

By Amanda Dingyuan Hou
|  Friday, Aug 9, 2013  |  Updated 3:19 PM CDT
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A spokeswoman for the Swiss tourism office, Daniela Baer, apologized to Winfrey on Friday, saying they “are very sorry for what happened to her.”

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Oprah Winfrey said she was denied service at a Swiss store last month because of her race.

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight  taped on Monday, Winfrey who may be one of the most recognizable faces on the planet, said a shop assistant in Zurich refused to show her a handbag worth close to $40,000, telling her it was “too expensive” for her.

"I say to the woman, 'Excuse me, may I see that bag right above your head?' And she says to me, 'No, it's too expensive.' She refused to get it," Oprah said.

Winfrey, one of the world's richest women, said she left the shop calmly without confronting the assistant but that the incident proved racism still exists.

"There's two different ways to handle it," said Winfrey who was in town for Tina Turner's wedding. "I could've had the whole blow-up thing and thrown down the black card, but why do that?"

A spokeswoman for the Swiss tourism office, Daniela Baer, apologized to Winfrey on Friday, saying they “are very sorry for what happened to her,” according to The Associated Press.

It's not the first time that the media mogul said she has been mistreated in a store because she is black. Luxury store Hermes apologized to Winfrey in 2005 for turning her away from their Paris store, calling it a "miscommunication" at the time.

Winfrey said that as a high profile celebrity she does not often face overt racism, but added that sexism seems to be the bigger issue when women are in powerful positions.

"I can sense that,” she told Entertainment Tonight. “But I can never tell is it racism, is it sexism, because often it’s both.”

Winfrey has just been awarded America's highest civilian honor - the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She will receive the award from President Barack Obama at the White House later in the year.

The OWN founder is coming back to the big screen in Lee Daniels' new movie, “The Butler,” which spans nearly 35 years of American history, including the turbulent years of the civil rights movement.

Watch Oprah Winfrey's full interview below.

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