Oprah introduces the shoulder she cried on

November 7, 2008

CHICAGO – Oprah Winfrey has introduced her talk-show audience to the mystery man on whose shoulder she wept during President-elect Barack Obama‘s election night victory speech. 

 “I only saw the back of his head,” Winfrey said of her teary moment caught by TV cameras and flashed repeatedly around the world as she rested her head on the shoulder of a man standing in front of her in a sea of people. 

 At the taping of Friday’s show in her Chicago studio, Winfrey brought the man  — former Reuters reporter Sam Perry — up from the audience for a face-to-face hug. 

 “We were in the moment,” said Perry, who told Winfrey that her runny mascara did not stain his suit coat. 

 Perry, who lives in Northern California and worked as communications director of the Obama Silicon Valley campaign office, said his cellphone started vibrating the minute the picture hit the airwaves, with friends from several places around the world “telling me that I was standing with you.” 

 But Winfrey said earlier this week she didn’t know who he was but was grateful for “Mr. Man” lending her a shoulder. 

 As to his moment of fame, Perry said, “people were staked out at my house yesterday as well and it just seemed like … we had a moment where the ‘stand up for change’ manifest in this election” was “taking over from Joe the Plumber,” a reference to the “everyman” from Ohio toasted by John McCain during the campaign. 

 Winfrey said the crowd was packed in so tight Perry’s was the only shoulder to lean on anyway — and she asked him for permission before she did. 

 The Chicago Sun-Times said Perry is a consultant and is active in E2, a group that advocates good environmental practices for the business community.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young. Oprah Winfrey awaits the arrival of Barack Obama at his election night rally in Chicago, Nov. 4, 2008.


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I’m not a hater, and I, too was crying my eyes out, but I still think it’s arrogant of Oprah to just assume she could lean on that guy’s back. I wouldn’t do that to soemone else, it’s called an invasion of personal space.

Posted by Therese | Report as abusive

God Positioned him to be there at that time for that purpose..It was all God plan for a moment such as was seen… That was really sweet of him…

Posted by jide | Report as abusive

It was an electric moment. Everyone was leaning on someone else’s shoulders. Obama was leaning on Martin Luther King’s. McCain was leaning on George Bush. I was leaning on Jesus.

Posted by Anietie Ukpe | Report as abusive

She’ll be crying along with millions of other people when the effects of the kool aid wears off and they realize what a huge mistake they’ve made.

Posted by Toonces | Report as abusive

I had no clue if Oprah was married or has/had a male companion. When I first watched the video, I thought he probably is Oprah’s man in her life (at least current). The chemistry and comfort level seemed natural. I was surprised to find that they were total strangers. Interesting!!

Posted by Naive | Report as abusive

What a joke.

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

How wonderful that Oprah chose to be one of the crowd at that wonderful moment of Obama’s victory. I’ve been near tears since Tuesday as I feel an important change has swept the globe. All the world is one community and Obama is an American who can cooperate with the world. A sigh of relief for the world–the mantle of oppression from the past eight years is lifted and hope lives again.

Posted by aguy7 | Report as abusive

I think it was admirable of the man to lend a shoulder. Who cares if it was Oprah or someone else. It was a highly emotional night for those present at the rally, and for those of us at home across the US. The previous remarks about ‘kool aid’ and ‘invasion of privacy’ were a bit much. Lets see how what other trivial things we can nit-pick about people. With the promise of rebuilding the economy, the potential for global conversations, and the proof that we are one step closer to establishing ‘equality’ for all instead of just for some, …one would think we could find something more substantial to complain about than someone revealing that they are human and needed a moment of compassion from a stranger.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

I am touched by the thought of a Presidency that begins with strangers supporting each other during a time of joy.

Posted by Annie Gabston-Howell | Report as abusive

I think it was very unfair that Oprah was so bias!
shame on you ! I was a big Oprah fan. Not anymore!

Posted by Lisa | Report as abusive

in my time I’ve never known kindness and genorosity until Oprah. never new of someone that I can call a hero until OBAMA was introduce to the world.

Posted by garry frog | Report as abusive

I agree with Jason.

Was this guy an employee at Krispe Kreme – “Sorry Oprah, we just sold out of that one”?

I bet if it was the other way around she would have had her security people tear this guys arms and legs off.

But hey that is the Opra way, exploit the people and then make money out of their naivite.

Posted by nick | Report as abusive

it looked forced to me, like oprah was trying to be ‘regular’ people… she is a good actress, very phony

Posted by Pete Towsnend | Report as abusive

Therese – you clearly didn’t read the whole way to the end of the article. Second to last line: “Winfrey said the crowd was packed in so tight Perry’s was the only shoulder to lean on anyway — and she asked him for permission before she did.”

Toonces – I don’t know about Oprah, but the millions of McCain supporters who started crying last Tuesday will undoubtedly continue until the Kool-Aid wears off…then they’ll start rejoicing for actually having an intelligent, competent, non-war-mongering, non-fear-mongering person as their President. Maybe some of them will start crying anew, but only because they’ll then realize how addled their brains were in trying to push McCain/Palin into the White House.

Lisa – So you’re trying to say Oprah is biased because she didn’t agree with you? Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. If you only want to hear/listen to people that agree with you might I suggest you never change the channel from Fox Noise.

Posted by TGN | Report as abusive