Michael Strahan Admits Last Day at Live Is 'Bittersweet' but Jokes, 'I'm Not Dying!'
The cohosts celebrated Strahan's final day with funny flashback compilations
brightcove.createExperiences(); Michael Strahan last day at Live has come and gone.
On Friday, the star said farewell to the show, where he has served as co-host alongside Kelly Ripa since 2012.
Strahan, 44, and Ripa, 45, came out holding hands and dancing to deafening cheers from the audience. As they approached their desk, Ripa sweetly pulled out Strahan’s chair for him, a move the former NFL pro typically does for Ripa every morning.
“We did it. We made it out here at least!” Strahan said, sitting down.
“Guys, hi! Don’t take this as a bad sign. It’s Friday the 13th! But you said 13 is a lucky number,” Ripa said, turning to Strahan.
“Thirteen is a lucky number. I am happy. I am not 6 feet under. I am 6’5″ above the ground!” Strahan said.
“It is your final day on the show. We all came today to celebrate you,” Ripa said. “And we want to remind the audience that there is a run on discounted merchandise at the kiosk. For these collectors items!” she said, laughing and holding up their Kelly and Michael mugs.
Strahan went on to say the day was “bittersweet.”
“Of course you get nervous and I’ve done this for four years so this is a moment that I didn’t anticipate being here at this point, but it’s here and we’re going to enjoy it,” he said. “I’m not dying! I’m still in the family! And I’m still available to come back if I’m ever called to co-host so I’m not going anywhere. I’m not gone.”
Joked Ripa, “I start vacation in a couple of weeks!” as Strahan said with a laugh “Too soon.”
“Anyway, during the show we’re going to have some flashback moments,” Ripa announced. “We’re not going to go too far back.”
“I don’t like a big thing to do about it,” Strahan said. “I think that we come out here every day and we do our host chat and we make people laugh, I think that’s what we need to do right now, forget all the other formalities and get on with the show.”
The co-hosts then went on with their daily morning chat.
Shortly afterwards, the show launched into the first segment of “Michael’s Flashback Friday Farewell,” playing a reel of funny clips of Strahan and Ripa co-hosting over the years, including a time Strahan biffed a call-in trivia game.
On Friday, Ripa joked to their trivia caller of the day: “You never know … Michael could screw this up and give you a free trip!”
Turning to producer Michael Gelman, she added: “Gelman wants me to remind you before you leave, you do owe him $8,000.”
Throughout the show, Ripa was warm and in good spirits about his final hour on the show and joked about all the ways Strahan could return to co-host for her during her upcoming vacation.
First guest Matt Bomer then came out and shared a few words for the co-hosts.
“I’m going to be a little sappy to start this off and thank Michael for helping the great, unrequited love of my live, Kelly Ripa, host this show for four years,” the Magic Mike XXL star said. “Whether you’re all dapper or in a gold lamé thong on the set of Magic Mike, you always carry yourself with a real grace and dignity.”
“When Matt Bomer shines his ray of light on you, don’t you feel like you’ve won the jackpot?” Ripa said.
Later in the show, Ripa announced the next segment of their Flashback Farewell: “On Sept. 4, 2012, Michael bolted into the studio. During the past four years we’ve had a lot of fun, we’ve made a lot of memories and we even learned a thing or two about Michael Strahan. Michael, this is your life.”
A sweet and touching compilation of Strahan’s moments on the show then unfolded, including a montage of him laughing, playing sports, being silly, doing his notoriously horrible accents and finally, his “unforgettable moments” which included the interview with President Obama the co-hosts did at the White House.
Once the clip was over, Strahan kissed Ripa’s hand and the two embraced. “A lot has happened,” said Strahan.
RELATED VIDEO: Kelly Ripa on Live Drama: ‘I Don’t Think of Anybody as a Monster or Out to Get Me’
For the final segment of the show, Ripa presented Strahan with several gifts: first, to celebrate his “Halloween achievements,” they preserved a pair of actual heels he wore on the show by having them bronzed.
“Those are actually your shoes. Nobody rocks a size 16 stiletto better than you,” Ripa said.
They also gifted him a framed throwback picture of himself wearing short jean shorts with Ripa Photoshopped in wearing the same outfit, as well as a photo book filled with pictures of the two over the years.
“So you know no matter where you go, you’re always here with us,” Ripa said as they flipped through it together. “Look at all we did together! We did everything together.”
“Now to the booze!” she said, holding up two glasses of champagne. “I just want to say on behalf on myself and all of us we couldn’t be prouder of you. You have given us so much joy in the morning from your smile to your sense of humor to your horrible French accent.”
“We are so, so proud of you,” she added. “We achieved so much together and I look forward to watching you every morning and seeing what else you achieve.”
“I just want to say it’s very bittersweet for me,” Strahan said. “I want to say thank you to everybody. You guys welcomed me into your home for the last four years. … I didn’t know what to expect coming from sports to daytime television.”
He also thanked the viewers, saying the reaction the show has gotten has been “overwhelming.”
“It means the world that you give us an hour of your day. We get more from that hour than you really do, and we sit in front of a live audience who I always say they are the third co-host of the show,” he said. “The energy they bring makes this show work. It’s not about myself, it’s about you, it’s everybody here. We have incredible staff here. They make sure we’re always prepared. We love you, we appreciate you.”
It then appeared to look as if Strahan’s speech was being played off by producers, but a source close to the show tells PEOPLE exclusively that that wasn’t the case. The show was aired live and it needed to close for commercials, so no ill intentions were behind it. Another sources tells PEOPLE that Strahan is very happy with the support he received.
He echoed that sentiment on social media a few hours later, tweeting, “I am humbled by the support of all the great fans, friends, staff, producers & crew. Unbelievable 4 years. Unbelievable morning. Thank you.”
And top finish off Friday’s episode, he turned to his co-host and said: “Kelly, you are the best. I love you, baby,” as the two embraced.
The initial plan plan was for Strahan to remain on Live through September, but Ripa explained in this week’s PEOPLE cover story that that she and the Live staff were behind the decision to speed-up his exit.
“What we’ve explained to them is, ‘Well, if you had asked us, we would have told you: Guys, we need to start looking, because we have summer hiatus, we have vacation time. We need to find people. If we’re going to have this list narrowed down at least to a manageable size by the fall, we need to start now,’ ” Ripa said, noting, “nobody consulted us initially.”
Live airs weekdays (check local listings).