NBC News announced Wednesday that longtime host Matt Lauer was fired from the network after an allegation of sexual misconduct was disclosed by a colleague to executives. The staffer remained anonymous and hasn’t been named, but reports say an incident may have happened while Lauer was covering the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
NBC News Chairman Andy Lack said in a statement that following the complaint, he had reason to believe it wasn’t an isolated incident.
“Our highest priority is to create a workplace environment where everyone feels safe and protected, and to ensure that any actions that run counter to our core values are met with consequences, no matter who the offender,” Lack said in the statement.
Today show host Savannah Guthrie, sitting alongside Hoda Kotb, made the announcement to TV viewers, saying: “We are heartbroken.”
Lauer’s dismissal means he leaves the network after more than 20 years working for it. He also leaves a contract worth millions on the table. His estimated 2017 net worth is $60 million.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Lauer Was Making $17 Million Annually Before Signing a New Contract
Lauer graduated from the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University, and received his undergraduate degree in 1997 when he was 39. He previously dropped out of school in 1979 to begin working as a producer for a local news station in West Virginia. In 1980, he became an on-air anchor for the news channel and started his rise to fame.
Eventually, Lauer found himself at WNBC-TV and had many opportunities to work with NBC News while there. He often filled in as a newsreader on Today whenever needed during the mid 1990s, and he joined the morning show as a news anchor in 1994.
In 2011, TV Guide released a list of the biggest salaries for those on TV. Among the top-grossing personalities was Katie Couric, who signed a $15 million contract with CBS at the time, and CNN’s Larry King, who made $14 million/year hosting Larry King Live.
Above those two in the rankings, though, was Lauer. TV Guide reported that Lauer was making an annual salary at the time of $17 million.
2. Lauer Signed a New Contract in 2012 Worth Well Over $20 Million
On April 5, 2012, Lauer announced that he signed a contract with NBC News that would last through 2017. The contract was signed for an undisclosed amount of money, but it was reported by The Huffington Post that he’d be making $25 million a year to be a co-host on the Today Show. His work also included various exclusive interviews with NBC, moderating several presidential debates and covering the Olympics.
Rumors had been swirling that he would leave when his contract was up in December 2014, and Ryan Seacrest was widely speculated as a candidate if he decided to leave. But Lauer stuck with what he knew and re-signed a contract with NBC.
“Matt is the franchise, and our franchise player has decided to keep leading our team,” NBC News president Steve Capus told the The New York Times.
Lauer made the announcement official on Today, referring to those he worked with as his “family.” He said that while he always wanted to stay at NBC, the idea of leaving to co-host a show with Couric was explored.
3. Lauer Purchased a Mansion in the Hamptons for Over $35 Million in 2016
It was reported last year that Lauer purchased Richard Gere’s estate in the Hamptons. The purchase, according to the New York Post, was worth $36.5 million. It features a main home, referred to as Strongheart Manor, and two guest homes. There were 12 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms in the home at Lauer’s time of purchase, and it sat on 6.3 acres “with stunning views of the Peconic Bay and Mashomack Preserve.”
Outside the home is a 60-foot pool, a basketball court and a sprawling lawn and garden. It also has a 240-foot private dock and a private beach.
The purchase of the home came after Lauer put up his own home in the Hamptons on the market for $17.995 million, Parade.com reported. That home was in Sag Harbor and was built with his wife Annette around 2001. It sat on 25 acres and had six bedrooms and six bathrooms.
4. Lauer’s Been Involved With Numerous Charities Over His Tenure
Over the years, Lauer has used his fame and fortune for good use. He’s worked with several charities throughout his tenure, including: the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the Cancer Research Institute, Elton John AIDS Foundation, Jumpstart, Red Cross, Soles4Souls and The Doe Fund. He’s also taken part in the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” to raise awareness and funds for the disease.
At the 2015 Emmy Daytime Awards, host Ellen DeGeneres kicked off the show with a joke and a pledge to donate to charity. She had a longstanding prank feud with Lauer, and she vowed to put an end to it at the show.
What followed was Lauer being “stripped” down, with his head being imposed over the body of a fit man who was wearing nipple tassels and garters and stockings. He announced that he’d donate $1,000 to a charity any time an Emmy winner thanked him during their speech that night.
Winners of Emmys helped him out, with Entertainment Tonight co-host Nancy O’Dell thanking him three times, and others following suit.
5. Lauer Teamed up With Shinola to Sell Several Signature Items Benefiting a Detroit Charity
In conjunction with his charitable work, Lauer joined forces with Shinola to create a collection of items for sale. All proceeds from sales were donated to the Detroit Children’s Fund, benefitting the Detroit Edison Public School Academy. It works to provide outstanding learning opportunities for children in Detroit, ensuring success through both high school and college.
Items featured were “hand selected” by Lauer, Shinola noted on its webpage. They included a watch strap, a leather passport wallet, boxed card set for handwritten notes, a 12-month planner and journals. The products were inscribed with the number 20, symbolizing Lauer’s 20-year anniversary with Today.
“Matt says he chose to partner with Shinola because the company’s products are modern and current, but still have a traditional twist,” Today noted on its website. “To this day, the first thing Matt does when he wakes up is open his leather-bound calendar and look at his agenda.”
However, the webpage and collection were removed from the website following news of Lauer’s dismissal from NBC.