Hitting close to home. Hoda Kotb was moved to tears after speaking with Drew Brees about the impact of COVID-19 on their mutually beloved New Orleans.
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The Today anchor, 55, has a special connection with the Louisiana city, having spent six years working at a local news station in New Orleans at the beginning of her career. One day after the NFL star, 41, made a $5 million donation to his home state, he called into the daytime talk show for a powerful conversation about how the coronavirus pandemic has made daily life a challenge for the people of Louisiana.
"The state of Louisiana thrives on small businesses," the New Orleans Saints quarterback explained on Friday, March 27. "We're a hospitality state, and so many people have been affected by this around the country, but especially in New Orleans. So when [my wife] and I think about one of New Orleans' basic needs, that is to make sure that they and their family are fed and they can continue to sustain. So that's where we wanted to start."
After the athlete encouraged communities across the state to "hang in there and maintain hope," Kotb reflected on the power of spreading positivity in a critical moment like this.
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"I think a lot of things are contagious, including generosity," the longtime NBC personality told Brees. "Our hope is because you let us know that you made this big, generous donation, I think other people look and say, ‘Hey, maybe I can help out too.'"
Kotb struggled to hold back tears as Brees signed off to return to his family, earning the sympathy of cohost Savannah Guthrie. "Hoda, I know it's a lot," Guthrie, 48, said as she consoled her fellow news anchor. "Take a moment. It's a lot. I know where your heart is, my dear, I do."
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Later on in the broadcast, Kotb explained why she was so moved by the news coming out of New Orleans and how she's been adjusting to social distancing amid the global crisis. "You sort of look around for someone to hug, just because, and you realize that's also part of it," she said to the camera. "But it's the new normal. We'll get used to it."
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