"I create my clothes for all different types of people regardless of their race, religious or cultural background. I am very pleased that the brand has been received so enthusiastically around the world.”
– Tommy Hilfiger
TOMMY APPEARS ON THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW FOR THE FIRST TIME, OPRAH DISPELS THE RUMOR AS "A BIG, FAT LIE"
On May 2, 2007, Oprah Winfrey personally invited Tommy Hilfiger to appear on her show for the first time to squash a rumor that had been circulating on the internet, repeatedly proclaiming, “That is the category of what I call a BFL, a BIG FAT LIE. [It] never happened.” The facts remain simple and indisputable: prior to May 2, 2007, Tommy Hilfiger had never appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and never made any racially inflammatory statements in any context.
Ms. Winfrey’s debunked the rumor as early as January 11, 1999 when on air she stated: "Tommy Hilfiger has never appeared on this show…all of [the] people who claim that they saw it, they heard it- it never happened. I never even met Tommy Hilfiger.” Yet, in the pattern of a classic urban myth, the rumor continued to circulate. After the rumor was brought to Oprah’s attention again, she invited Tommy Hilfiger for his first-ever appearance on her show.
During the May 2, 2007 interview, Tommy Hilfiger talked about how he enlisted the help of outside experts to try to trace the source of this erroneous rumor. As for the impact of this rumor on his life over the years, Hilfiger said, “It hurt my integrity because at the end of the day, that's all you have. And if people are going to challenge my honesty and my integrity and what I am as a person, it hurts more than anything else…It has really hurt my heart.”
To coincide with the airing of the segment Tommy Hilfiger released the following statement: “Words can be fleeting, but actions withstand the test of time,” stated Tommy Hilfiger . “Friends, family, and business colleagues who know me, who see the way I live and conduct business, know that the rumor is complete nonsense. This show will finally extinguish the rumor once and for all.”
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Dear Mr. Hilfiger:
The Anti-Defamation League has received recurring inquiries regarding a number of defamatory rumors that have been spread on the Internet and by word-of-mouth in recent years about you and your company. Based upon our investigation, it is apparent to us that you never made the statements that attribute racist remarks to you. In some cases, the rumor alleges that you appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and made racist remarks, causing a supposedly irate Oprah to ask you to leave. We have concluded that these rumors are completely false, and it is apparent that you never made the statements attributed to you, nor did you appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
According to our information, these allegations about you and your company, Tommy Hilfiger Corporation, began circulating through the Internet via e-mail in the United States in 1997, and have since continued to circulate by means of chat rooms, bulletin boards, faxes, e-mails, and word-of-mouth in the United States and elsewhere.
ADL has investigated the matter in response to the requests of constituents and other community members. We have concluded after careful investigation that the malicious rumors circulating about you and your company are without merit and lack any basis in fact.
We feel that it is important to be aware of the dangers of believing everything on the Internet and we intend to make these facts known to anyone inquiring about the subject.
Please feel free to use this letter and the ADL findings in any way you wish.