NBC didn’t waste any time breaking some big news in the new year. On Tuesday morning, Hoda Kotb was named permanent co-host of the “Today” show.
The announcement made official a temporary job Kotb, 53, had been thrown into with no warning and great drama on Nov. 29. That’s when NBC abruptly fired longtime “Today” anchor Matt Lauer after an employee filed a complaint about “inappropriate sexual behavior” in the workplace.
On that morning, a clearly shaken Savannah Guthrie announced Lauer’s termination with Kotb sitting beside her at the “Today” anchor desk. But the mood was much improved on Tuesday when Guthrie announced that Kotb would be joining her on “Today’s” first fulltime all-female anchor team.
"This has to be the most popular decision NBC News has ever made," Guthrie said.
Here’s what else you need to know about Kotb:
She’s an Okie: Kotb’s parents are Egyptian, but she born in Norman, Oklahoma, home of the University of Oklahoma (no word on who Kotb was rooting for during Monday’s thrilling college football playoff game, which the University of Georgia won over Oklahoma in double overtime). The family later moved to Alexandria, Virginia, where Hoda was elected homecoming queen at Fort Hunt High School in 1982.
Related video: What you need to know about Hoda Kotb
She got her first TV job in the Deep South: A graduate of Virginia Tech, where she studied broadcast journalism, Kotb said she worked her way down south towards the Florida Panhandle getting rejected at a number of TV stations. She finally was hired for her first job at WXTV in Greenville, Mississippi.
She’s staying loyal to Kathie Lee: After working as a news anchor and reporter at top-rated New Orleans station WWL-TV for much of the 1990’s, Kotb became a correspondent for NBC News and “Dateline NBC” in 1998. She was nominated for multiple Emmys for her work on “Dateline,” winning in 2010. But she really became known nationally starting in 2007, when she and Kathie Lee Gifford teamed up as co-hosts of the rollicking fourth hour of “Today.” Kotb said Tuesday she would continue hosting the 10 a.m. hour along with Gifford, along with her new fulltime “Today” duties. And Gifford was thrilled -- but not surprised -- to hear it, telling “People” magazine, “She’s already the hardest working woman there.” She figured out a way to keep everything that is bringing great joy into her life and have this dream job.”
She’s a (relatively) new mom: Last February, Kotb called into the “Today” show with an unexpectedly delightful story: She was the new mother of an adopted baby girl. Well, unexpected to some people. Gifford joined Guthrie and Lauer on the “Today” set to “take” Kotb’s call. Not long after a photo flashed onscreen of Kotb cradling the infant whom she’d named Haley Joy, Gifford exclaimed, "Do you know how hard it has been to keep this secret? I've got the biggest mouth!"