Oprah Introduces Secret Half-Sister

Winfrey announced it on TV because 'It's gonna get out eventually.'

By Lisa Balde
|  Monday, Jan 24, 2011  |  Updated 5:41 PM EDT
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Oprah Introduces Secret Half-Sister

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Oprah's Going Down Under |
Oprah Winfrey kicked off her farewell Season by surprising her audience with a big gift: She will be taking all 300 audience members on a trip to Australia.

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The rumors are true. Oprah Winfrey has a half-sister she never knew about.

Winfrey made the announcement on Monday’s episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show." She said she met her secret half-sister, Patricia, who lives in Milwaukee, on Thanksgiving Day after years of Patricia’s dogged pursuit of her relatives.

"This, my friends, is the miracle of all miracles," Winfrey said before bringing her kin on stage, The Associated Press reported.

She also called the reunion "a 'Beloved' moment," a reference to the book by Toni Morrison.

During the show, Winfrey said she had had no idea her mother was ever pregnant and was living with her father when Patricia was given up for adoption.

In an interview with their mother, Vernita Lee, Winfrey asked why she kept Patricia secret.

"Because I thought it was a terrible thing for me to do, that I had done, gave up my daughter when she was born," Lee replied. She added that she didn’t think she could get off welfare if she kept the baby.

Patricia, who was adopted at age 7 after stints in various foster homes, said she started thinking Oprah might be her sister during an "Oprah" interview with her mom.

"The hairs on the back of my neck stood up," she said. "Because I knew one of my siblings and I shared the same name."

Eventually a DNA test with the daughter of the sibling -- Patricia, who is now deceased – proved they were related.

Patricia said she never went to the press with the news because “family business should be family business.”

But celebrity biographer Kitty Kelley, who penned an unauthorized tome on Winfrey last year, predicted over the weekend that Oprah’s much publicized “secret” reunion would be with a half-sister who was given up for adoption as a baby.

Winfrey said Monday she addressed the topic on her show because, “it's gonna get out eventually.”

Selected Reading: AP, EW, LAT

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