You might have heard a distant screaming yesterday afternoon, whether you were in New York or California. That would have been the 300 Oprah audience members going completely berserk in Chicago when she surprised them with a free trip to Australia. There was hugging, there was screaming, there was crying, and there were probably even a few minor heart attacks. And to top it off, they'll be flown there by none other than John Travolta, who will probably spend the entire 20-hour flight talking about Scientology over the intercom system! OH MY GOD! Oprah is so kind, so generous, she's like Santa Claus!
Or is she?
Oprah has an obscene amount of power and influence. It's actually so cult-like that it makes me uncomfortable when I really start thinking about it. Think of when she selects a book for her famous book club. That author can basically look forward to retiring that year if he/she so chooses because they're set for life on sales. So if a company's product lands on Oprah's show, it's almost a guarantee in sales increase. Totally worth dishing out 300 freebies for.
Just like those 276 Pontiac G6s she gave away in 2004. Think Oprah bought those with her hard-earned money? Hell nah. Pontiac dished them out. But you know who did have to pay for it? The winners. When they were handed a lovely $7,000 worth of taxes.
Thanks a lot, Oprah.
And, just like the car giveaway, this Australian trip isn't all kangaroos and wallabies. Someone's forking over the dough for America's favorite talk show host to go down under, and those someones are the Aussies. The Australian Tourism Minister, Martin Ferguson, has admitted that he used $2.3 million of taxpayers' money to lure Oprah and her 300-person entourage to Australia in hopes of boosting tourism.
Oh, I can hear them now: "That bloody dill spending our moolah!" (Translation: That idiot spending our money.) I'm also willing to bet that the audience members will have to pay some kind of taxes when they return to the homeland, as they did with the cars.
Just goes to show, nothing in life is ever free. Not even with Oprah.
Would you be mad to learn that your tax money was being spent on something like this? What do you think of Oprah's "gifts"?
Image via Oprah.com