Oprah Winfrey's cousin has accused the media mogul of embellishing stories of her poverty-stricken background, insisting her famous relative was "spoiled" as a child.
The media mogul has often claimed her family was so poor she was dressed in potato sacks and adopted cockroaches as pets growing up in rural Mississippi.
The TV titan's life comes under scrutiny in new book Oprah, by gossip queen Kitty Kelley, and the tome includes interviews with Winfrey's cousin Katherine Carr Esters.
She alleges Winfrey has exaggerated tales of her poor childhood, claiming that although the family wasn't rich, her cousin was relatively "spoiled" compared to her stories of abject poverty.
Esters says, "Where Oprah got that nonsense about growing up in filth and roaches I have no idea. I’ve confronted her and asked, ‘Why do you tell such lies?’ Oprah told me ‘That’s what people want to hear. The truth is boring.’”
In an interview with EW.com, the book's author, Kelley, adds, "I was having lunch with Ms. Esters, and she was talking about Oprah’s lies. And I said, 'Well, are they really lies? They’re more colourful stories.' And Mrs. Esters is saying, 'No, those are lies. She said she was raised in abject poverty. Oprah said she never had a pretty dress until she was successful. She was beautifully dressed as a child.' I said, 'Is that the most important thing?' And she looked at me and said, 'No, the most important thing is that we were poor folks down there. But she was raised as an only child, and she had the full and undivided attention of all of these adults who spoiled her to death. And that was the reason she was so precocious and successful.'”