Oprah gets hands on Olympic mitts, warms audience with maple-leaf mitten giveaway
By Tamsyn Burgmann, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER, B.C. - If they were hand-wringingly hard to get before, now that Oprah Winfrey has gotten her paws on them it'll be next to impossible.
America's hottest TV show host sported Canada's coolest Olympic swag on her program Friday - a pair of official Olympic retailer HBC's red mittens with a white maple leaf on the palm.
The accessory was pronounced the "hottest item" at the Olympics by the daytime TV queen. When the lights came up as her show began, it was hard not to notice the scarlet adorning her hands, prompting some pouting from the guest being beamed in over satellite from Vancouver, NBC journalist Matt Lauer.
"Nobody can get a hold of these red Canadian mittens and we have scoured the entire country to find one pair for you," Lauer, co-host of the Today Show, said on air while holding up a pair of the gloves and shaking them in fake exasperation. "And you open the show wearing the darn things."
In true fashion, Winfrey then proceeded to give the $10 'it' item of the Vancouver Games away to her entire audience. They cheered and clapped as though she'd given them a car, and then gave mitten-clad high-fives to Winfrey's next guest, American gold medal snowboarder Shaun White.
Winfrey told her viewers that she noticed some of her audience members sporting the mitts since last week, and decided she wanted some.
A spokeswoman for HBC said the company sent a batch of more than 300 pairs to Winfrey at her request.
The retailer stocked store shelves across the country with three million pairs of mittens, and two million of them sold even before the Winter Games began a week ago.
Comments online were mostly warm and fuzzy over the mitten's guest appearance, but the sentiment was slightly frostier among a few.
"I don't think anyone in Oprah's audience should get red maple-leaf Olympic mittens unless they can find Canada on a map first," one Twitter user posted.
But it's still another touchstone moment in the sudden rise of Canadian patriotism, said marketing professor Lindsay Meredith at Simon Fraser University.
"Finally, it looks like Canadian nationalism has come out of the closet," he said.