Now that Hoda Kotb is officially TODAY's new co-anchor, we're excited to learn more about Savannah Guthrie's upbeat and kind morning sidekick (as if we needed an excuse). Read on for some lesser-known facts about the 53-year-old television journalist.
1. She's a Southerner!
Maybe you knew about Kotb's Southern roots, but you may not know the depth of her connection to our terrain. Kotb was born in Oklahoma, and raised in both West Virginia and Virginia. She graduated from Virginia Tech and spent time working in television in Mississippi and New Orleans before eventually landing in New York City.
2. A stranger on an airplane forever changed her life.
As she shared in Reader's Digest, Kotb will never forget the man she sat next to on a transatlantic flight home from Ireland while she was battling breast cancer. Though she had kept her diagnosis private save from a few trusted individuals, the man empowered her to share her powerful story with the world. "Breast cancer is part of you, like going to college or getting married," the stranger said. “Look, you have a choice in life. You can either put your stuff deep in your pockets and take it to your grave, or you can help someone.” Motivated by his words, Kotb decided she would share her experience with viewers. Were it not for that chance encounter, many may have missed out on Kotb's heartfelt guidance and inspiring words.
3. She's in a Martina McBride music video—for a good reason.
Kotb appears in Martina McBride's 2011 music video for her single "I'm Gonna Love You Through it." The powerful video features vignettes with everyday cancer survivors alongside other celebrities like Robin Roberts, Katie Couric, and Sheryl Crow.
4. Her daughter's name has a great story behind it.
As Kotb revealed during a TODAY show segment, her daughter's name has a wonderful and warming backstory. She's named Haley Joy because "H" is a letter Kotb shares as the start of both her name and also her sister Hala, as well as her niece, Hannah. As for the middle name? What better experience is there in life than joy? Precisely.
5. She lived in Egypt.
Though the South may be where she was born and raised, Kotb's family is Egyptian. Following college, she moved to Cairo and worked at CBS as a news assistant before returning to America, as TV Guide reported.
WATCH: Hoda Kotb Loves Singing this Popular ‘Sesame Street’ Song to Her Daughter
6. Her dog is named after a country star.
And People's 2017 Sexiest Man Alive. This fella is none other than Blake Shelton, of course. As explained on the TODAY show, Kotb's massive crush on the country crooner led to her naming her rescue Cockapoo in his honor. Blake certainly has a nice ring to it, no?
7. Her instagram is brimming with inspiring quotes. From happy pick-me-ups to pensive philosophical commentary written by the greats, her instagram proves a landmine for uplifting adages whenever you're in a need of a dose of Hoda.