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Oprah Winfrey Says Bye To WeightWatchers Board, WW Stock Plunges

WeightWatchers International Inc., commonly known as WW, is dealing with the financial fallout following media mogul Oprah Winfrey announcing her departure from its board of directors. The company saw a substantial drop in its share price.

Oprah (Photo via Instagram @oprah)

Winfrey, who has been a pivotal figure on WW’s board since 2015, revealed her decision not to seek re-election at the upcoming shareholder meeting in May. This unexpected development has rattled investors, leading to a sharp decline of up to 26 percent in WW’s stock value during pre-market trading on Feb. 28.

So Long WW

“I look forward to continuing to advise and collaborate with WeightWatchers and CEO Sima Sistani in elevating the conversation around recognizing obesity as a chronic condition, working to reduce stigma, and advocating for health equity,” Winfrey said in a statement. Previously Winfrey had committed herself to the company until 2025.

WeightWatchers’ stock has experienced a significant decline of 60.71 percent over the past six months. If yesterday’s drop is sustained, it could result in an overall 85 percent decrease over the same six-month period, Fortune reported.

The departure of Winfrey, known for her influential endorsements and advocacy for weight management, comes at a critical juncture for WW. The company has been navigating challenges in an era dominated by alternative weight-loss solutions such as prescription drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy, especially after Winfrey annoucned she had lost weight not via her beloved WW programs but by taking a weight loss drug such as Ozempic.

Winfrey disclosed she was taking popular weight-loss drugs as a “maintenance tool,” and claimed she would continue to work with WW “in elevating the conversation around recognizing obesity as a chronic condition,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

Back in January, Winfrey got called out by health and life coach Jillian Michaels, who said that “The Color Purple” producer’s business savvy always kicks in when she stands behind products.

“Oprah has a financial incentive with Ozempic,” the celebrity fitness instructor said in an interview with Page Six.

Adding “Oprah, I believe, is one of the biggest shareholders of WeightWatchers, and WeightWatchers is now in the Ozempic business.”

The speculation wasn’t a good look for Oprah or WW.

Winfrey’s association with WW dates back to 2015 when she joined the board and acquired a notable 10 percebt stake in the company. Her endorsement and personal success story with the WW program provided a much-needed boost to the brand, attracting new customers and bolstering its credibility among a wide audience.

In advertising campaigns, she proudly showcased the 40 pounds she had shed through the program, lauding its flexibility by boldly stating, “I have bread every day.” Her endorsement breathed new life into an aging brand, lending it credibility among Oprah Winfrey’s extensive fan base.

Despite initial successes, WW has encountered difficulties in retaining customers and adapting to evolving market dynamics. The company’s recent initiatives, including the acquisition of a telemedicine startup to offer obesity drugs and partnerships with social media influencers, have faced mixed reactions from consumers and failed to deliver the desired results.

Moreover, WW’s financial outlook for 2024, revealed alongside Winfrey’s departure announcement, fell short of Wall Street’s expectations.

Winfrey said she would donate her sizable stake in WW to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, CNN reported.

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