On May 17 2011, the final episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show was recorded at the United Center in Chicago in front of an audience of 13,000 people. The two-part episode included appearances by Madonna, Will Smith, Tom Hanks, Maria Shriver, Beyonce, Patti LaBelle, Stevie Wonder, Tom Cruise, Aretha Franklin and more.
Madonna had this to say about Oprah’s career and legacy:
“It’s no secret millions of people are inspired by Oprah. I am one of those people. She’s a self made woman who has been at the top of her game for 25 years and she is still kicking ass, encouraging people to dream big, work hard, to read a book, get an education, ask questions – no matter who you are or where you come from. She fights for things she believes in, even if it makes her unpopular. She has balls and a wealth of compassion. I’ve learned so much from her.”
Madonna told the audience that Oprah has inspired her to continue her work at her school in Malawi, despite the setbacks.
“I hope to have that same thrill in the years to come, to see that I, too, have made a difference. Oprah, may the next chapters be even better. I stand before you on behalf of the many you have helped and vow to be more courageous and never give up. Never…. Thank you for inspiring me.”