Oprah Winfrey, who has publicly struggled with her weight for decades, has bought a stake in Weight Watchers for a whopping 43.2 million dollars (£27.9 million).
The weight loss company said it had signed a five-year deal with the former talk show host, these days a co-owner of OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, who has paid for a 10 per cent share.
The deal is already paying off – Weight Watchers shares more than doubled after the partnership was announced, earning Oprah about 45 million dollars (£29 million) on paper.
Oprah will use the Weight Watchers mobile app and work with a personal coach, the company said. She has also agreed to let Weight Watchers use her name, image and likeness for its products and services. Additionally, she will make appearances on the company’s behalf.
“Weight Watchers has given me the tools to begin to make the lasting shift that I and so many of us who are struggling with weight have longed for,” the TV star and actress said in a statement. “I believe in the programme so much I decided to invest in the company and partner in its evolution.”
Weight Watchers is no stranger to celebrities. It has paid singers Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Hudson to promote its plan. But the deal with Oprah is a shift to focus on overall health and wellness, rather than just dropping pounds.
“We are expanding our purpose from focusing on weight loss alone to more broadly helping people lead a healthier, happier life,” said Weight Watchers president and CEO Jim Chambers said in a statement.
The company has been hurt by the popularity of fitness trackers and other health apps. MyFitnessPal lets users track steps, workouts and the amount of calories they eat for free on its app. Buying a FitBit tracker unlocks similar free online tools.
Weight Watchers charges for its online food tracking, and weekly meetings and weigh ins have been a hallmark of its plan.
Oprah’s weight has yo-yoed over the years, and she’s been very open publicly about her struggles with dieting.
In fact, weight was a frequent subject of her talk show, which ended nearly five years ago after 25 years on the air. In 1988, a thin Oprah famously walked out on stage wheeling 67 pounds of fat in a wagon, representing the weight she lost. But her weight has fluctuated over time.
Since then, she has talked about being uncomfortable with being on the cover of her magazine because of her weight gain.