Hoda Kotb: I Was 'Totally Fangirling' First Time I Met Kathie Lee Gifford

The Today host talks about how a substitute anchoring job led to a special friendship with her co-host

Photo: Peter Kramer/NBC/Getty

Before Hoda Kotb shared the Today show screen with Kathie Lee Gifford, Kotb had a genuine fan moment with her future co-host.

“I was at a restaurant with a friend of mine who’s a producer, and we were sitting and we go, ‘Is that Kathie Lee? Oh my God,’ ” Kotb, 51, explained at a book event hosted by The Moms Mamarazzi and Secrets Resorts and Spas on Friday. “We were like, ‘Hey!’ Totally fangirling.”

At the time, Kotb was working the 10 o’clock hour of Today with Natalie Morales and Ann Curry. When Morales and Curry were not able to host one day, Kotb reached out to Gifford.

“She showed up, her cleavage was out, she had hair pieces, fake hair, she’s in her tight, whatever, and she was awesome, like she killed it,” Kotb said. “She’s like TNT that shows up, right? Like she just explodes.”

The two eventually started co-hosting the Today show’s fourth hour in 2008.

During the Q&A portion of the event, Kotb explained her very “real” friendship with Gifford, especially after going through the loss of Gifford’s beloved husband, Frank.

“I think the friendship I have with her is so real,” she said. “We’re really tight and I feel really, really, really, really blessed to be pals with her.”

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