By Mahita Gajanan
December 11, 2018

Kathie Lee Gifford tearfully announced her upcoming departure from the Today show in an emotional on-air reveal that highlighted the bond between her and longtime co-anchor Hoda Kotb.

Gifford said she plans to retire from the program in April 2019, on what will be her 11th anniversary on Today. She and Kotb have co-hosted the show’s fourth hour for the past decade. Gifford shared the “bittersweet” news on Tuesday, saying she is excited about her upcoming projects but will miss her team, particularly Kotb, and the work they did together.

“I’ve been in this business for 120 years and never worked with a more beautiful group of people who just give, give every day,” she said. “I love you Hoda mama.”

Gifford credited Kotb with her decision to stay on the show for the previous decade.

“I thought I would stay one year,” she said. “Something happened along the way — fell in love with a beautiful Egyptian goddess.”

Kotb grew emotional as she paid tribute to her co-anchor.

“The minute you stepped into my life with both feet, everything changed,” she said, as a crew member lowered tissues on to the set so the women could wipe away their tears. “You chose me. And that’s how it started. Everything good that’s happened in my life has happened since you came.”

Write to Mahita Gajanan at mahita.gajanan@time.com.

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