Fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger made his debut on Oprah Winfrey's US talk show yesterday (02May07) in a bid to end a rumour suggesting he had once been kicked off the show for making racist remarks.
The reclusive US style guru admits he thought the 10-year-old Internet report was "crazy" when he first heard about it, but decided to address it on Oprah when he discovered many people were refusing to buy his clothing because of the remarks attributed to him.
The rumour suggests Winfrey asked Hilfiger if he'd ever said, "If I had known African Americans, Hispanics, Jews and Asians would buy my clothes I would not have made them so nice. I wish these people would not buy my clothes as they are made for upperclass white people."
And when he said "yes" she asked him to leave the show.
But on yesterday's show, the pair revealed the incident never happened, and Hilfiger insisted he had never made the racist remark.
He said, "I would never say that and all my friends and family, who know me, and people who work with me and people who have grown up with me said, 'That's crazy.'"
Hilfiger told Oprah he was so upset about the rumour, he hired agents to find out how the rumour had started.
"We hired FBI agents... I paid investigators lots of money to go out and investigate and they traced it back to a college campus, but they couldn't put their finger on it.
"It hurt my integrity... Forget the money that it has cost me, forget anything else. It has cost me heartache.
"I have four children. My children would come from home and say, 'Daddy, I go to school with a Jewish boy who says you don't like him.' They know it's not true."