Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres aren’t just the undisputed queens of daytime TV talk shows; they are also good friends and neighbors in Montecito. The two actually have a lot more in common than their day job, as they both love to drive great cars, and they also love to give cars away to audience members at their shows!
Oprah started out as a news anchor in Chicago, before the network commissioned her to make a network talk show. This first incarnation of The Oprah Winfrey Show became the number one rated talk show in Chicago, and Winfrey launched her own production company to take the show national in 1986. It was Winfrey who first started the craze of giving away expensive free gifts to audience members, especially those who had been through a difficult experience – something which her successor Ellen DeGeneres has continued to do in spades.
Ellen started out as a stand-up comedian, and then an actress on her own sitcom, before going on to present The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2003. Ellen and her wife, actress Portia Rossi, are one of the most high-profile gay couples in Hollywood.
Check out the list below to discover the cars in Ellen and Oprah’s garages, as well as some of the great cars they have given away on their shows.
20 Ellen’s Garage- Ferrari California
Despite her folksy image, Ellen is obviously a big fan of speedy and stylish European supercars, if her garage is anything to go by. She and wife Portia were spotted cruising the California coastline in a stunning Ferrari California – what else? – with the top down back in 2012.
The Ferrari California is a two-door grand tourer built by the famous Italian automotive company at their legendary Maranello factory between 2008 and 2017. A brand new Ferrari California model in 2012 would have set you back a cool $200,000; pocket change to talk show queen Ellen who is worth an estimated $450 million.
19 Ellen’s Garage- Porsche 993
The day trip in the Ferrari California was something of an aberration for Ellen, however, who definitely has an absolute favorite when it comes to car manufacturers: Porsche. Given that her wife’s name, Portia, is pronounced almost identically to the German auto company, it is unlikely that this passion for Porsche cars is unlinked to her passion for Portia, although it could just be a happy coincidence!
One of the highlights of Ellen’s impressive collections of Porsche cars is her Porsche 993, an early 90s version of the original and best Porsche 911 which she bought back when she and wife first got together.
18 Ellen’s Garage- Porsche Panamera
But the Porsche 993 is only the beginning of Ellen’s apparent obsession with the German car maker. She also owns a Porsche Panamera, a much more modern model which was first produced in 2009. The Panamera is an executive car, and currently, the only sedan which Porsche makes.
Alongside the Porsche Panamera and Porsche 993 in Ellen’s garage are a Porsche Targa 4S, a $150,000 high-end version of the 911, and a Porsche Cayenne S, the company’s attempt to get a foothold in the growing SUV market, as well as a couple of ordinary, everyday Porsche 911s in various colours.
17 Oprah’s Garage- Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing
When it comes to cars, Ellen’s Montecito neighbor and talk show rival Oprah Winfrey has much more eclectic taste. One of the most stylish vehicles in Oprah’s garage is a Mercedes Benz 300SL with gullwing doors – vertical lifting doors which lift up and out from a hinge on the roof.
This vintage coupe was only in production for three years between 1954 and 1957, and only 1,400 models were ever made, making this Mercedes as rare as it is stylish. Some models have sold for millions of dollars at auction in recent years, as they don’t come up for sale very often, Oprah will be keeping hold of this one for a while!
16 Oprah’s Garage- Cadillac Escalade
Given its rarity, it’s unlikely that Oprah takes the Mercedes Benz 300SL on the morning commute to work, but she does have a few different vehicles that she can use for everyday driving around Montecito.
One is a Cadillac Escalade, a full-size luxury SUV which has the specifications to be called a truck, only without the pickup bed! The monster set of wheels is enormously popular with celebrities and has been in constant production since 1998. The company did try producing a hybrid model for a few years from 2008, but this proved not to be quite so popular with drivers.
15 Oprah’s Garage- Lincoln Navigator
Oprah also owns another rough and ready full-size SUV, the Lincoln Navigator. The heaviest Lincoln car ever built, the Navigator has been rolling off the production line at Ford plants around the US since 1997. Lincoln is Ford’s luxury brand, and the difference is immediately apparent, especially when you look at the Navigator’s opulent interior.
In fact, the only downside to cars like the Cadillac Escalade and the Lincoln Navigator is their poor fuel efficiency. The Escalade gets a combined 14 miles per gallon, while the Navigator fares a little better, getting 19.5 miles to the gallon.
14 Oprah’s Garage- Tesla Model S
Driving those gas guzzling SUVs isn’t necessarily a good look for a media star who has also advocated for environmental causes, which probably goes a long way towards explaining why Oprah’s most recent automotive acquisition has been an all-electric Tesla Model S.
Tesla is gaining in popularity among Hollywood celebs who used to display their green credentials by driving hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius, and Oprah loves her stylish Model S sedan. With an impressive 335-mile range, Tesla is also making electric cars practical and stylish, as well as environmentally friendly, and the number of Teslas parked outside Hollywood hotspots is only going to increase in the coming years.
13 Oprah’s Garage- Mercedes Benz E-Class Coupe
Oprah still has a place in her heart for good old-fashioned gas-powered cars, however. As well as owning the vintage Mercedes Benz 300SL, the talk show host and Oscar-winning actress also has a modern Benz in her car collection; an E-Class Coupe.
The E-Class is a range of luxury executive cars which the German auto giant has been producing since 1953, though the model that Oprah drives was the first reintroduced to the market at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show. For reliability, performance, and comfort, it is difficult to beat German car makers, and Mercedes Benz, in particular, has a great reputation in the States.
12 Ellen Has Gifted- Ford Escape
Back in 2012, Ellen gave away a Ford Escape SUV to a very special mom, whose kids and grandkids had been in touch with the show to ask if the generous host could do something to help them say thank you for everything.
As usual, Ellen went above and beyond what they asked for, handing over not only $10,000 in cash, but also a brand new Ford Escape. This wasn’t the last time that Ellen gave away one of the Ford Escape SUVs, however, as she also handed one over to Mary in 2015, whose husband was serving overseas and had wanted to surprise her, in one of the most memorable Ellen episodes.
11 Ellen Has Gifted- Mercedes Benz CLA 250
Also in 2015, Ellen’s annual birthday show became one to remember for a few lucky audience members. The Ellen show has taken to celebrating its host’s birthday in a big way in recent years, with huge giveaways for the audience, and even a few surprises for Ellen herself along the way.
In 2015, however, two audience members had to complete an obstacle course dressed as the tortoise and the hare from the fable. The winner got the keys to a brand new Mercedes Benz CLA 250 four-door coupe, but even the runner-up got to drive away in a Mercedes Benz GLA 250 SUV.
10 Ellen Has Gifted- Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
Not all of the Ellen fans who get new cars are members of the audience who just got lucky; many are deserving members of the public who Ellen has decided to reward for their good deeds. This was the case with waitress Sarah Hoidahl, who hit the headlines in 2013 after she picked up a $27 check at the restaurant where she worked for two officers during the shutdown.
Ellen had already told Sarah that was getting $10,000 in cash when she casually revealed that she was also going to send the waitress a brand Hyundai Santa Fe Sports SUV.
9 Ellen Has Gifted- Mazda CX-9
Ellen celebrated Mother’s Day in 2014 by rewarding super-mom Tanya with a brand new Mazda CX-9 SUV. Tanya, who was actually in the audience for the show but who had no idea that she was about to become its star, started to cry as she heard video messages from all her friends and family, telling the Ellen show what a great mom she was to her three young kids.
Although a single parent, Tanya had gone back to school and still somehow found time to volunteer with her children’s sports teams! A very well-deserving recipient of a free car from the Ellen show.
8 Ellen Has Gifted- Land Rover Defender
And Ellen doesn’t just give away cars to complete strangers, either. When it came to trying to think of the perfect Christmas gift for her wife, Portia, in 2014, Ellen decided to buy her the car she had always dreamed of owning; a classic British Land Rover Defender worth around $160,000.
Ever the showman, Ellen had the automotive gift trucked into in the parking lot at a mall in Texas where she knew they were going shopping later that day, complete with a festive bow on the hood, but Portia didn’t realize it was her Christmas gift until Ellen handed over the keys.
7 Ellen Has Gifted- Buick Regal
Back in 2010, Ellen decided to have a little fun with a few of her fans when it came to one car giveaway. Revealing that she had a brand new Buick Regal to give away on that show, she then chose four women from the studio audience to take part in a little game which saw them grab car keys from a table and try to answer questions correctly – keeping the keys if they got the right answer.
At the end of the game, all the girls got the chance to see if their car was the one that fit the Buick Regal in the studio, and the lucky winner got to drive the brand new car home.
6 Ellen Has Gifted- Ford EcoSport
Jeannie Klisiewicz has been an integral part of the Ellen show since 2008, when she joined the team as a receptionist and then signed up to be the host’s roving reporter and partner in crime when it came to surprising members of the public – and it is a job that Jeannie has embraced with gusto, dressing up in crazy costumes and going out in all weathers to make sure that the show goes on.
Ellen obviously appreciates the effort that Jeannie puts into making her show a success, as she has frequently surprised Jeannie herself with tokens of her esteem, including a brand new Ford EcoSport SUV to commemorate her tenth year with the Ellen show.
5 Ellen Has Gifted-Ford Focus Hatchback
Oprah may have created the idea of giving free gifts to members of her studio audience, and deserving members of the public, but Ellen has really taken that generous ball and run with it, giving away millions of dollars in cash and cars, as well as spending a fortune to reunite fans of the show with loved ones overseas in episodes which are always guaranteed to be emotional!
In 2015, Ellen’s roving reporter Jeannie surprised college student Carly, who also spent time outside of class volunteering in her in her local community, with a brand new Ford Focus Hatchback – the first vehicle that Carly had ever owned!
4 Ellen Has Gifted- GMC Terrain
Some could say that Jeannie has one of the best jobs on daytime TV. Not only does she get to work with and hang out with Ellen, but she gets to travel all over the country, handing out generous gifts to unsuspecting, but very deserving members of the public.
In one week in 2010, Ellen gave away a whole week’s worth of GMC Terrain crossover SUVs to audience members and viewers at home, during “All-Terrain Game Week”. Ellen fans had to compete in a game in order to win the prize, but as this is the Ellen show, the truth is that nobody went home empty-handed, and Jeannie even got in on the act too!
3 Ellen Has Gifted- Chevrolet Cruze
It isn’t just super-moms who get the star treatment on Ellen; teachers who go above and beyond to help the kids in their class also get rewarded for their hard work too. Chris Page, who taught at the high school in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, was the recipient of a Chevy Cruze back in 2011 after his students wrote to the show to thank him for all the extra time and effort he puts into making sure the children he teaches can succeed.
She even sent roving reporter Jeannie to deliver the good news while Mr. Page was in the middle of teaching one of his classes!
2 Oprah Has Gifted- Pontiac G6
It was queen of daytime TV Oprah who made the art of giving gifts to her studio audience all her own, and she will always be remembered for the classic “You get a car” episode in which she announced, almost individually to everyone in the studio, that they were going to be driving home in their very own Pontiac G6 sedan.
This happened back in 2004 when Ellen had only been on the air a year, although it perhaps wasn’t quite as generous a gift as it first appeared. It turns out that all the members of the audience who took their Pontiac had to pay the gift tax on the car, which could have cost them up to $7,000.
1 Oprah Has Gifted- Volkswagen Beetle
The famous “You get a car” episode was far from the only time that Oprah got generous with her studio audience. In 2010, the 275 members of Oprah’s audience not only received a sneak preview of the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle, a classic car that Oprah describes as one of her favorite vehicles, but the TV star then revealed that everyone was getting their very own Beetle to take home.
Of course, they had to wait for a couple of years until the 2012 Beetle was actually available to the public, but that’s a small price to pay for a free car.
Sources - Car and Driver, TMZ, Fortune, Ellen Tube, USA Today