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Oprah Winfrey Addresses Reports She Was “Ambushed” by a “Secret Son”

Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey set the record straight about a report that a "secret son" "ambushed" her in NYC earlier this month. Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

Real talk. When Oprah Winfrey was “ambushed” by a man claiming to be her “secret son” in NYC earlier this month, the talk show titan didn’t have much time to react. But on Thursday, Oct. 29, the media mogul set the record straight about her relationship to Calvin Mitchell and what really happened that night.

“I met Calvin around the early ‘90s, I think it was 1992,” Winfrey, 61, told Entertainment Tonight’s Nancy O’Dell. “I was doing a film for television called There Are No Children Here. We were shooting in the projects in Chicago and I was sitting on set during a break, and this cute little sparkly eyed boy came underneath the yellow tape to hand me a soda.”

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Winfrey noted that the boy’s tenacity touched her heart, and she started chatting with him.

“I was so charmed by him that I started talking to him about his family, his school life, and found out that he was in a situation where his mother didn’t have a job and they were stuck in the projects,” she continued.

Oprah Secret son
Ryan Turgeon/Splash News

Winfrey and her partner, Stedman Graham, decided to take Mitchell under their wing. The talk show host even paid for Mitchell to enroll in a local private school and found employment for Mitchell’s mother.

When Winfrey and Graham were informed that Mitchell hadn’t been attending school, they discovered that part of the problem was that the family didn’t own any clocks.

“We went out, Stedman and I, went to Kmart that moment, got a bag full of clocks, came back to the house, taught them how to set the alarm and all that,” she said, adding that she told Mitchell she’d give him another chance.

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Winfrey then sent Mitchell to a private boarding school in Mississippi, but Mitchell decided to drop out of the school after a brief stint because, he told Winfrey, “the teachers didn’t like him.”

In an interview with earlier this month, Mitchell called that decision “a dumb” one that led to Winfrey’s decision to “abandon” him.

“I want to ask Oprah, ‘Why did you leave me? Why did you leave me?’” he told the site. “I’m still empty. I’m still searching. I don’t have closure to this. I just don’t understand.”

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When Mitchell, now 35, approached Winfrey outside The Late Show on Oct. 15, the Oprah’s Next Chapter host didn’t initially recognize him.

“As I left, and he was looking so forlorn, he was like, ‘Can I speak to you?’ So I said to somebody on my team, ‘Will somebody get Calvin’s number so I can contact him later?’” she told ET, adding that she didn’t realize the “ambush” was set up by The National Enquirer.

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When she discovered the nature of their abrupt reunion, however, Winfrey decided to keep her distance. 

“When I realized the whole thing was a setup, I was no longer interested in speaking to him,” she said.

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