TV host and film actress Oprah Winfrey has endorsed Democrat John Fetterman in Pennsylvania's neck-and-neck Senate race, rejecting Republican Dr Mehmet Oz, whom she helped make a star two decades ago when she gave him a reoccurring role on her popular daytime talk show.
Winfrey last year released a statement saying: “One of the great things about democracy is that every citizen can decide to run for public office. Mehmet Oz has made that decision.”
The statement went on to say that she would leave the election for Pennsylvanians to decide, but she reversed that position on Thursday during an online discussion on voting in the midterm elections.
“I said it was up to the citizens of Pennsylvania, of course, but I will tell you all this: if I lived in Pennsylvania, I would have already cast my vote for John Fetterman for many reasons,” Winfrey said.
The Oscar nominee went on to urge listeners all over the country to vote for Democrats running for governor and the Senate.
Winfrey has rarely stayed out of the political fray and many were wondering when, not if, she would come out against her former protégé.
The Pennsylvania seat has for months been seen as the most likely pickup opportunity for Democrats in the evenly divided Senate.
Polls show a close race between Mr Fetterman and Mr Oz, a celebrity heart surgeon who is endorsed by former president Donald Trump.
In a sign of how high the stakes are, Mr Trump will return to Pennsylvania on Saturday to campaign for Mr Oz, while President Joe Biden and former president Barack Obama will campaign for Mr Fetterman that same day.
Mr Oz left Winfrey's show after five years and 55 episodes to start his own daytime TV programme, The Dr Oz Show, which ran for 13 seasons before he moved from New Jersey to Pennsylvania to run for Senate.
The seat is being vacated by retiring Republican Pat Toomey.