Hoda Kotb Opens Up About Why She ‘Couldn’t Pay My Bills’ for ‘Many, Many Years’ at Start of Career

Hoda Kotb remembers the time when she had to fight for a raise.

As we discussed how Vanna White was able to secure an extended Wheel of Fortune contract, the 59-year-old daytime talk show host opened up about pay inequality early in her career on Wednesday’s episode of the show Today with Hoda and Jenna.

“I think it’s one of the hardest things for women to do,” she admitted when asking for a raise. “I know for years I definitely made a fraction of what my male co-workers made. I never actually asked because I didn’t want to be difficult myself.”

Hoda Kotb on “Today with Hoda and Jenna”. Helen Healey/NBC via Getty ‘Today’ honors Hoda Kotb’s 25 years at NBC with adorable throwback reel

Looking back on her time at NBC as a correspondent for Date line from 1998 to 2007, Kotb claimed she may have been the “lowest paid female correspondent”, adding that the pay disparity was “pretty clear at the time”.

“I remember thinking, ‘I can’t pay my bills here,'” she continued. “I couldn’t pay all my bills at the same time. So I said, ‘I’ll pay this one, and then pay that one.'”

Her co-host Jenna Bush Hager emphasized the importance of teaching her daughters “to both be humble [and] work hard” and “not be afraid to ask for what they deserve”.

Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager on Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager on ‘Today with Hoda and Jenna’.

Nathan Congleton/NBC via Getty

Hoda Kotb Praises How ‘Shameless’ Jenna Bush Hager Is: ‘People Spend Their Lives Trying’ (Exclusive)

“Both things can be true. You can have grace and humility and still ask for what you deserve,” Kotb agreed. “Both of those things can happen at the same time.”

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Tuesday, Wheel of Fortune confirmed that White, 66, has reached an agreement with the series to extend her contract for an additional two years, meaning she will continue to participate in the syndicated game show through the 2025-26 season. As a result, White will work alongside Ryan Seacrest when he takes over from Pat Sajak as host next fall.

Wheel of Fortune began its 41st season last week, with Sajak’s daughter Maggie returning as the game’s social media correspondent.

Vanna White on Celebrity Wheel of Fortune

Vanna White.

Christopher Willard/ABC

Vanna White says it’s ‘depressing’ to think about the end of her and Pat Sajak’s time on ‘Wheel of Fortune’

A source familiar with White’s negotiations previously told PEOPLE that the mom of two — who became co-host of the show in 1982 — was seeking equal pay with the longtime host after earning roughly $3 million a year for the past 18 years without any raises. .

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“This is such great news,” Seacrest, 48, reacted to the report in the announcements of the upcoming “Sunday headquarters” segment. “Vanna was the main character in that show and in our living rooms for so many years. I was really excited to work with her, but now that it’s official I can say, ‘Congratulations Vanna! I can not wait.'”

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