Oprah Winfrey Apologizes For Racism Comments

O is sorry Swiss boutique incident "got blown up."

Posted: 08/14/2013 10:00 AM EDT
Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey says she's sorry for the uproar she caused by revealing an incident of racism against her from a posh Swiss boutique. The media mogul claims her anecdote has gotten blown out of proportion.

The drama started when Winfrey recounted to Entertainment Tonight that a store clerk at an upscale boutique refused to show her a $38,000 handbag, assuming the OWN boss would not be able to afford it based on her appearance. "[Racism] shows up for me differently, it shows up (when) I'm in a store and the person doesn't obviously know that I carry the [American Express] 'black card' and so they make an assessment based upon the way I look and who I am."

"You should be able to go into a store looking like whatever you look like and say 'I would like to see this' — and that didn't happen," she added, pointing out that "nobody is going to call me the N-word to my face."

The allegations created a media stir, especially once the store in question was identified as Switzerland's Trois Pommes boutique. Now, Winfrey admits she regrets sharing her story. "I think that incident in Switzerland was just an incident in Switzerland. I'm really sorry that it got blown up," she said. "I purposely did not mention the name of the store. I'm sorry that I said it was Switzerland.  I was just referencing it as an example of being in a place where people don't expect that you would be able to be there."

Winfrey is hoping to cap any further escalation of the incident by putting her comments into context."It's not an indictment against the country or even that store," she said to reporters on the red carpet of the premiere of her new film, Lee Daniels' The Butler. "It was just, you know, one person who didn't want to offer me the opportunity to see the bag. So no apology necessary from the country, from Switzerland!"

As for the store clerk in question, she has apologized profusely and publicly to a Swiss newspaper and insists the incident was "two hundred percent a misunderstanding." The clerk, identified only as Adriana M., offered to resign from the boutique but the store manager refused to accept it.

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(Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

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