Oprah Winfrey just tipped the scales, but in a good way. The billionaire entertainment mogul fattened the stock price of weight loss giant Weight Watchers by announcing she’s buying in. The company issued new shares to accommodate Winfrey’s position, which will equal 10% of the outstanding shares. Winfrey also receives a seat on the board of directors, and the option to acquire another 5% of shares after the dilution.
Oprah Winfrey has long been known for her ability to move markets. Probably the most famous example is the impact her Oprah’s Book Club had on the publishing industry, with her choices instantly anointing new bestsellers — far beyond the bump bestowed by traditional book awards. (Or perhaps ask Barack Obama, who benefited mightily from Winfrey’s endorsement.) It’s Winfrey’s personal investment in the products (and politicians) she endorses that make her interest carry more weight than her money, though in the case of Weight Watchers that money is significant: she’s investing $42 million. (And like all smart investors, Winfrey chose a valley: Weight Watchers stock was down 50% this year before she bought in, after which it nearly doubled.) But the share price rose on the news not merely due to her investment, but because of her personal relationship with the company. “Weight Watchers has given me the tools to begin to make the lasting shift that I and so many of us who are struggling with weight have longed for,” she wrote. “I believe in this program so much I decide to invest in the company and partner in the evolution.”