An Iraq war veteran has come forward alleging that she had an affair with Matt Lauer just after she worked on the Today show. In a shocking tell-all to Variety, Addie Collins Zinone admitted to having an affair with the married Lauer in 2000. She was 24 and he was 43. Zinone was fresh out of college and had worked on the Today and in NBC News show as an intern and later as a production assistant. The affair began, according to Zinone, after she left 30 Rock to work as an anchor on NBC’s West Virginia affiliate. Although Zinone confesses that the relationship she had with Lauer was consensual, she blames him for having a very negative effect on her life and career.
Lauer was fired by NBC after 20 years at the helm of the Today show on November 29, 2017. He had been accused by a female subordinate of engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior while on location at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Further investigations by the New York Times and Variety uncovered further instances of Lauer behaving inappropriately. Lauer has admitted to some of the allegations and apologized.
Zinone is a native of Barrackville, West Virginia.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Zinone Served 2 Tours of Duty in Iraq
After her alleged affair with Lauer, Zinone told Variety that she joined the U.S. Army and began basic training in March 2002. In the army reserve, Zinone became a military journalist. Zinone says of this time, “I’m not connecting dots that don’t exist, because it makes my story better. I went and joined the army because I on my own couldn’t deal with the fallout from this brief but intense relationship.”
Zinone was sent to Iraq in November 2003, just after Zinone had started work at Access Hollywood. Just after her second tour, in 2008, Zinone told Variety that a friend of hers had pitched an idea to Today producers. The pitch was a story on a former production assistant who was now fighting in Iraq. A producer told Zinone’s friend who pitched the idea, Maria Menounos, “We’re not going to cover her. Addie said something bad about the show.”
During her time in the military, Zinone rose to the rank of staff sergeant and served as a public affair soldier. In addition, Zinone received the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation medals and the 2007 Army Reserve Broadcast Journalist of the year award.
Zinone told Times West Virginia in 2007 that her first tour lasted from November 2003 until November 2004. Zinone told the website she was a member of the 22nd Broadcasting Operations Detachment. During her second tour, Zinone was with the 302nd Mobile Public Affairs Department. She explained her role saying, “To help people understand what I’ll be doing, I’m like a reporter covering military operations. I cover the military side of the story. If there is a unit going out on patrol or on a mission, I’ll cover that story. I’m being cross-leveled into another unit to replace a soldier who is coming home. I’ll be joining a unit that has already been there. They are looking for us to be coming back about May or June in 2008. But we have to make sure the job is done for the troops who will be staying over there. We can’t leave them without proper protection.”
2. Zinone Says She Had Sex With Lauer in a Bathroom at the 2000 Democratic National Convention
Zinone told Variety that just after she graduated Temple University with a degree in broadcast journalism, Zinone sent a cold fax to Katie Couric in the spring of 1999. A few weeks later, Couric’s assistant made contact and Zinone went to work at NBC News. Zinone says at the time she had no money and stayed as a women’s shelter at the Salvation Army.
Zinone says she forged a close relationship with Couric, Ann Curry and Al Roker. It was only after Zinone left Today that Lauer took an interest in her, inviting her to lunch and sending her suggestive instant messages. The pair had a consensual encounter in an abandoned dressing room in June 2000 after they had lunch together. Zinone says the last time she saw Lauer was at the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, the pair had an encounter then too, in a bathroom. Some time later, Zinone says she was approached by a National Enquirer reporter over the alleged affair but the story never made it to print. Zinone apparently told the reporter that she and Lauer were just friends.
In October 2009, Zinone was inducted into the School of Communications and Theater Hall of Fame at Temple University. An article about her induction notes that Zinone was the movie critic for the school newspaper during her time at Temple. Zinone graduated in 1998. Aside from journalism, Zinone was also on the school’s gymnastics team.
Zinone told Variety that the same night she received her award, Lauer was also being rewarded. Zinone said that she was asked at the party by-then NBC News President Steve Capus to do a segment on Today about her military career. When Zinone and her husband went to New York City to film the segment, Zinone says Lauer was absent from work.
3. Her Husband Played Defensive End at West Virginia University
According to a post on her Facebook page, Zinone married Greg Zinone in May 2007. Three months after their wedding, Zinone was back in Iraq. The couple has two children together. Greg Zinone, a native of Bayonne, New Jersey, formerly played defensive end at West Virginia University. The family lives in Newport Beach, California. Zinone met her husband just after her first tour of Iraq ended in November 2004.
During Zinone’s first tour of Iraq, she founded a non-profit, Kicks for Kids. The charity sought to collect used shoes from American children to be given to Iraqi children. In total, the effort collected more than 50,000 pairs of shoes. While in 2007, Zinone and her husband founded, Pro vs GI Joe. That non-profit serves a moral boosting service for active-duty troops. It offers them the chance to online game with some of their heroes in the world of sports or celebrity. Zinone told Times West Virginia about how the concept came about, “My husband came up with that idea. He feels he’s contributing in some way. I’m so happy that my husband is on the same page and we can do these things together. He’s incredibly creative. He thinks outside the box. He’s always coming up with these unique and creative ideas.”
4. Zinone Is Now the Owner of Clothing Line for Moms
These days, Zinone dedicates her time to her clothing line, Sideline Candy, where she is the CEO and founder. Zinone began the company in 2016. Zinone described the company as saying: “Sideline Candy is a clothing brand created to celebrate, empower & encourage moms who spend countless hours on the sidelines!”
Zinone writes on her Instagram bio that she is a “human; mom; wife; combat veteran; journalist; lover of equality and bacon and Jesus.”
5. At the Time of the Alleged Affair, Lauer Had Been Married to Annette Roque for Less Than 2 Years
Lauer married his second wife, Annette Roque, a Dutch model for J. Crew in October 1998. The alleged affair with Zinone occurred in June 2000 meaning he had been married for less than two years. Lauer and Roque had three children together, sons, Jack and Thijs as well as a and a daughter, Romy. In September 2006, Roque filed for divorce alleging that Lauer had been cruel and inhumane to her while demonstrating extreme hostility and anger. People Magazine reported on December 11 that Lauer was fighting hard to save his marriage. A source told the magazine that Lauer and Roque were most concerned with the well-being of their children amid the scandals.