Get mercilessly mocked for a financially based oversight once, shame on you. Twice? Forget about it.
Which is why Oprah Winfrey took the lessons learned from Cargate—when each "lucky" member of her studio audience who received a Pontiac got the unexpected bonus of having to pay $7,000 in gift tax—and assured her Australia-bound fans that the trip will be absolutely, positively, 100 percent free of charge.
For them. But not for Oprah.
To avoid the messy fallout from her 2004 giveaway, Winfrey reportedly had a certified public accountant on hand after Monday's 25th and final season premiere (which actually taped last week), informing the future travelers that the Oprah show would, quite unlike the last time, be paying every last cent of tax, excess fines, baggage costs, passport fees and pretty much any other unexpected expense the vacation may have in store for the audience.
Incidentally, she's not bearing the burden of the trip's cost entirely on her own, as the Australian government's tourism ministry is cosponsoring the trip and is reportedly shelling out nearly $3 million for the privilege of aligning themselves (and promoting their country) with Oprah.
"I think it's money well spent," said Australia's minister for tourism, Martin Ferguson. "This truly represents an amazing opportunity to showcase Australia, the warmth and hospitality of our people and the depth and breadth of everything our country has to offer visitors from around the world."
Winfrey, who will be traveling with the 300-strong posse, will film several episodes of her talk show while abroad.
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