Hoda Kotb, 58, has been a staple on morning television for more than a decade – coming into our homes before the sun is up with a sense of joy, curiosity, compassion, journalistic expertise – and that beaming smile that we have all come to know and love.
But it was in her 50s that Kotb has arguably had her most success and impact. Not only did she became the co-anchor ‘TODAY,’ she also became a mother when she adopted her two daughters Haley and Hope. Kotb was honored on Forbes and Know Your Value’s “50 Over 50” list, which was revealed on Thursday. The list celebrates women over the age of 50 who have found success later in life and are shattering age and gender norms.
“This decade of my life is by far the best decade I have ever had,” Kotb told Know Your Value founder and “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski. “And I would never have imagined that to have been a possibility. “…If someone would have said here are the odds of you being a mom in your 50s, the odds would have been really astronomical. [Or] here are the odds of hosting ‘TODAY.’ And the odds would have been a million to one probably…But I never knew the odds. And I didn’t seek them out. I just decided that’s not going to be my thing. I’m going to go forward, and I’m going to look for what I want, and I’ll just see.”
Kotb’s journey to the top was not fast – or easy. After graduating from Virginia Tech in 1986, Kotb was rejected by 27 different employers before she landed her very first job in the field. She then spent 10 years as a local news correspondent and anchor in Illinois, Mississippi, Florida and Louisiana – until she got ‘the call’ from NBC News in 1998.
Kotb started off at NBC as a national news correspondent and contributor to ‘Dateline.’ She then joined the ‘TODAY’ family in 2007, and shortly thereafter revealed she had been diagnosed with breast cancer—sharing her journey and eventual beating of the cancer with viewers all along the way. In 2018, Kotb was named co-anchor of “TODAY” with Guthrie, becoming the first female anchor duo to lead the show. Together, they have covered some of the most crucial stories of our time – including the end of the Trump presidency, the Covid-19 pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and much more.
Even with her professional success, Kotb told Brzezinski that her biggest accomplishment after age 50 was adopting her two daughters, adding she loves that she became a mom later in life.
“I love having children in my 50s. I love having a 3 and 5 year old,” said Kotb. “…I feel like having kids in your 50s, I mean, I'm so much calmer than I was. I'm so much smarter. I'm living in the moment … and I also have a schedule that allows me to see them more because I'm done in the morning. So I think having kids in your 50s is pretty spectacular. I don't know what it's like to have kids in my 30s or my 40s… But I do know that this is the right time for me.”
It was Guthrie who nominated Kotb to be on Forbes and Know Your Value’s “50 over 50 list.” Guthrie told Forbes’ Maggie Mcgrath that Kotb is “inspiring to women everywhere.” “Hoda is the living, breathing demonstration that you can have it all, and you can have it on your own terms…she represents to me what a modern woman is,” said Guthrie. “She is strong. She is beautiful. She is kind. She is authentic. She is devoted to her family. She maintains and cultivates her friendships. And she is an incredible professional and a wonderful journalist.”
Brzezinski added that Kotb and Guthrie – who just recently turned 50 – are a perfect example of what can happen when women advocate for each other. “They both bring so much to the table: experience, compassion, knowledge and joy to their craft each and every day,” said Brzezinski. “They respect and value each other—and are a stronger team because of it.”