Oprah's Biggest Pet Peeve Isn't What You Think

Oprah Winfrey's rags-to-riches life story is truly inspirational. Over the years, Winfrey has transformed herself from an abused child living in poverty to a beloved American icon overseeing a media empire — not to mention becoming one of the wealthiest Black women on the planet.

She has long been known for her passion and generosity. On her long-running talk show, Winfrey often gave away expensive gifts. No fan can forget her exuberant shouts, "You get a car! And you get a car!" 

She set up the Oprah Winfrey Foundation to support women and children, especially by helping young people receive an education, and, to date, her charity has given away millions of dollars to help people around the world. This philanthropy regularly catapults Winfrey onto lists of the world's most generous celebrities.

It may come as a surprise, then, that a person so inspirational, passionate, and generous would have a major pet peeve that some might consider petty. And Winfrey's biggest annoyance is something that millions of people do every day.

This is Oprah Winfrey's biggest pet peeve

More than anything, Winfrey hates it when people chew gum. In an interview with People from 2010, she explained, "I hate chewing gum. It makes me sick just to think about it. When people chew loudly or smack it and pull it out of their mouth, that's the worst."

On a 2018 episode of "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," Winfrey corrected Colbert when he asked about her gum phobia. "It's not a phobia," she said. "I intensely dislike it. And it comes from my childhood." 

Insisting that "this is absolutely no hyperbole whatsoever," Winfrey painted a vivid picture of how her lifelong hatred started. 

"My grandmother used to try to save the gum," she said. "She would put it on the bedpost. She would put it in the cabinet. She would put it everywhere around. And so as a child, I would bump into it, and it would rub up against me. And you know what it's like when you've taken it out of your mouth, and it's been out for a couple of weeks? It's bad."

Oprah Winfrey wants others to stop chewing gum

Oprah Winfrey hates gum so much that she won't allow it in her workplace. "I had it barred at my offices. Nobody is allowed," she said during a 2018 episode of "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert." "Everybody I work with knows this. Do not chew gum in front of me. It creeps me out."

Winfrey would bar gum everywhere if she had the power to do so. Instead, she tries to ignore it. But, sometimes, she does confront people about their habit — even when those people don't work for her. 

She recounted for Colbert an incident on the set of "A Wrinkle in Time." Winfrey's co-star, Reese Witherspoon, offered her a piece of green gum, chomping loudly on her own piece the whole time. Winfrey was horrified, especially by the fact it was green. "If it's colored, I just go crazy," she said. And she informed Witherspoon about her dislike of gum in general.

The following evening, Colbert's guest was none other than Witherspoon. When he asked her about breaking Winfrey's gum rule, the actress protested: "Nobody gave me the Oprah rules!"

Consider this fair warning for anyone else who may enter Winfrey's orbit: She most certainly does not like gum.