Hoda Kotb Reveals Why Jenna Bush Hager Is Perfect to Replace Kathie Lee Gifford

After months of speculation, Today finally made it official. Jenna Bush Hager will be sitting next to Hoda Kotb in the co-host chair when Kathie Lee Gifford leaves the show in April. Hager has long been considered the front-runner for the job, so the announcement comes as little surprise. And judging by the reactions on Twitter, the Today family couldn’t be happier.

Gifford announced she was leaving ‘Today’ in December

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Last December, the veteran talk show host announced that she would be leaving Today after 11 years with the show. In a memo released by NBC, Gifford said she had only intended on spending a year with the show, she fell in love with the people on the show. Gifford said that she has other projects in the works and it will be hard to leave after becoming so close to her team at Today.

Jenna Bush Hager gained immediate support for the new gig

Almost immediately upon Gifford’s announcement, Hager was the one to beat for the job. News outlets were calling her a shoo-in, with TMZ flat out asking Gifford and Kotb what they thought of Hager getting the gig. Her endearing personality and natural charisma have made her a fan favorite throughout the years.

While there were other names floated around, many knew that it would always be Hager. Gifford revealed the hosts knew Hager would get the job for a while but had to keep it a secret. She joked, “It was the worst kept secret in Hollywood.”

Jenna Bush Hager is perfect for ‘Today’

Hager joined the Today family as a correspondent for the show in 2009. Throughout her tenure at the show, Hager has taken on various roles. Over the past eight years, Hager has filled in for both Gifford and Kotb numerous times.

The hosts were emotional as they commiserated over the departure of Gifford but were also thankful Hager was going to be taking her spot. Kotb remarked, “I don’t know if you guys know, but here at NBC, and around the country, Jenna is loved.” Gifford praised Hager for her work and said that over the past few months she has seen her blossom and gain confidence, knowing that she was ready for the job.

Hager told People in this week’s issue, “It feels organic and it feels right. It just feels like the right time for me.” The excitement was palpable during Tuesday morning’s announcement. It was evident that Kotb knew all along that Hager was the one that should sit next to her. Both Gifford and Kotb shared their excitement on Twitter. Gifford said:

“So thrilled for my sweet friend, @JennaBushHager. She will be a beautiful addition to this show that I have grown to love so much. @hodakotb is one blessed Hoda Mama.”

Kotb, meanwhile, welcomed a new co-host while saying goodbye to an old friend:

“A big day here @klgandhoda! So much love today.  @JennaBushHager will be joining me as a cohost of the 4th hour…  my heart is bursting !! and to be honest breaking a little too. as we get set to say goodbye to @KathieLGifford.  A legend and my friend.”

Gifford has other plans in the works

Kotb joked that Gifford will be back to visit so often that fans will think she is still hosting. But Gifford says she has a lot of plans. Last year she opened up and revealed that she would be spending a lot of her time producing movies and music. She has spent the last year trying to fit numerous projects in around her busy schedule. The 65-year-old told her fellow Today hosts that so many projects have been bubbling up in her over the years and that she has known that her time with Today was almost done for a long time.

Gifford’s not done yet. Fans can continue to watch Kotb and Gifford together until her final show, April 5.