Newly minted “Today” co-anchor Hoda Kotb, who officially replaced Matt Lauer on Tuesday after filling-in for him after his firing on Nov. 29, is speaking candidly about not making the same salary as her ousted predecessor.
“The answer is no — that’s not happening,” Kotb, 53, says in the new issue of People magazine when asked if she would be making similar money as Lauer, who according to Forbes and The Washington Post made an estimated $25 million a year, but who according to People had a two-year contract totaling $20 million.
Co-anchor Savannah Guthrie, 46, also told People she earns less than Lauer’s reported salary.
“I think,” says Kotb, “the whole money thing for me, I’ve always been sort of — I know it sounds ridiculous that I’m going to say this, but I really have done jobs I liked for the job I liked because I never wanted to be happy every other Friday on pay day. Like, I didn’t want that to be the happy day. I wanted to feel good throughout. So no, I’m not making Matt Lauer money. Not even close.”
Kotb joined NBC News in 1998 and has been co-hosting the fourth hour of “Today” with Kathie Lee Gifford since 2008. Lauer, who turned 60 on Saturday, had begun with “Today” as news anchor in 1994, and succeeded Bryant Gumbel as the show’s co-anchor opposite Katie Couric in 1997.
Following Lauer’s dismissal, “We were just trying to make it through those days together,” says Kotb, whose pairing with Guthrie has been met with positive reviews as well as increased viewership for the show. “Sometimes when you go through something with someone, you see something special,” she added of the new partnership. “I think that’s what happened.”
This marks the first time that the morning program, which premiered in 1952, has had two women as co-anchors.