I can’t name names, but after a week or so of calls and negotiating, I was able to get an inside source on Oprah Winfrey’s team. The source was on set when Winfrey had her showdown with Lance Armstrong today, and shared the following transcript with me.
Oprah Winfrey: Now, Lance, you’ve been pretty quiet since the USADA charged you with using performance-enhancing drugs last year.
Lance Armstrong: I have, yes.
OW: That’s unusual for you.
LA: It is.
OW: Tell me — what have you been doing since then?
LA: Just trying to stay active, you know. Swimming. Running. Biking. Raising my five kids. I play golf when I can. Built a scale model of one of the Tour’s mountain stages out of Michelob Ultra bottles. Hiking. Learning to —
OW: Wait, what?
LA: Yeah, I’m learning to —
OW: No, no. Hold on. Did you say you built a scale model of —
LA: Oh, yeah. McConaughey said it would take a month, but I got it done in a week just to shove it up his —
OW: Lance, it sounds a little bit like —
LA: Like what?
OW: Well, it sounds like —
LA: I’m not wigging. What, wait, you think I’m wigging? This is hangtime. I’m just, uh, I’m just regrouping. I’m spending some time with myself, getting stronger, regrouping. Thinking about, uh, regrouping. I’m, uh, thinking about how I listened to my instincts and they were wrong. Wrong. The opposite of right.
OW: That’s a direct quote from Singles.
LA: Haha, well done. Yeah, I’ve also watched that a few times. Man, that soundtrack! [sings the first verse and chorus of Screaming Trees’ “Nearly Lost You” while air drumming] I don’t know if you know this about me, but I’m a bit of a movie buff.
OW: I did not.
LA: Yep. Which is kind of, a little bit, what I wanted to talk to you about today.
OW: Right, of course. So — wait, I’m sorry, I don’t know if I follow.
LA: Well, like I told your people, I have something to get off my chest.
OW: Yes, I just don’t know what —
LA: If you’ll let me talk.
OW: Sorry. You were saying.
LA: [stares down for a moment] Oprah, this is, as you can imagine, this is pretty tough for me. [long sigh] I spent much of the past year waiting. Not waiting like hoping, you know, or that I wasn’t sure about something. Because I did know it was going to happen. I wasn’t sure when. But I knew it was going to happen. I mean, I knew. It was inevitable. Not all my Tour victories were like that, but some of them were. You know what I mean? Like, there could have been five stages or 50 but that yellow jersey was going up on my wall when it was over, and that’s all there was to it. And this was like that. I mean, it wasn’t even just that it was inevitable; it was like it had already occurred. And you know what? I was excited.
LA: I was. Yes. Just because it was time. It was past time, honestly. This should have happened, you know, a year ago, five years ago. I was nervous, because I didn’t know exactly how I was going to react, but it was the good kind of nervous. Like going skydiving. You’re scared a little bit, but you’re ready to jump out of that plane, because you know everything is going to be different after that. I knew he was going to be different, and that might change things.
OW: [quietly] He?
LA: [talking over her] But then the day arrived. The big day. The day of the announcement. I couldn’t sleep that night, so I was up, you know, I was wide awake when the news started to trickle out. I got on my computer and looked through all of the names, and he wasn’t on it.
OW: I’m … I don’t … I’m not —
LA: I re-checked it. I just, I couldn’t believe it. [stares into the middle distance, blinking back tears] I’ve never been more surprised in my life. I sat there. I couldn’t move. I mean, I really don’t think I could have walked five feet, much less the 10 miles I had planned on running that day, after the 30-mile bike ride, and 500 laps in the pool. So I cracked an Ultra and sent Matty a text: JKL.
LA: Just keep livin’. That’s sort of his catchphrase and his company’s name and all that. I told him, hey, bud, [voice cracks] you’ll get ’em next time, you know? That’s all I could really do.
OW: I’m sorry, I’m really confused here. “Just keep livin’.” [someone off-camera whispers to her] Are you talking about Matthew McConaughey?
LA: Of course.
OW: [long pause; she shuffles through her notes] What does he have to do with the USADA report or the allegations or —
OW: That’s what we’re talking about, right?
LA: Of course not. I mean, what? Are you kidding me? I’ve already said everything I’m going to about that witch hunt. Let me refresh your memory: “There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ For me, that time is now.” Or August. Whatever. You know what I mean. I’m done with that noise. You know? Done.
OW: So … what are you talking about, then?
LA: Did you not see Magic Mike? How could Matty not get an Oscar nomination for that? Come on. Christoph Waltz? Who even is that? He couldn’t carry McConaughey’s jock with a handle and a wheelbarrow. I mean, are you serious with this [redacted] [redacted]? You know what I mean, Oprah?
OW: Well. [long pause] Wasn’t he just sort of playing himself?
LA: I think we’re probably done.