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Hoda Kotb reveals what she really thought of Jenna Bush Hager when she first joined Today

Hoda and Jenna started hosting the Fourth Hour of Today together in 2019

The Today Show's Fourth Hour has been on the road this week
Ahad Sanwari
Ahad Sanwari - New York
Senior WriterNew York
14 April 2024
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It's officially been five years of Today with Hoda and Jenna, with the newly revamped Fourth Hour premiering on April 8, 2019 with Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager.

Jenna, now 42, succeeded Kathie Lee Gifford, who'd hosted alongside Hoda, now 59, from 2008-2019, and their partnership immediately clicked, leading them to develop a close on and off-screen relationship.

To celebrate the five year anniversary of their show, Hoda and Jenna aired a two-day special recording from New Orleans this past week, and spoke with Entertainment Tonight about their adventures as co-anchors.

On their "Spilling The E-Tea" segment, Hoda was asked what she thought of Jenna on their first day together five years ago, and the longtime NBC anchor looked back on the time with fondness.

"I thought that you were super excited. You were kinda scared, which I liked," she recalled. "But the thing that I remember the most about you on that day – and every day since – is you're 100 percent yourself. You're 100 percent yourself on day one and you're 100 percent yourself times five years."

They dished on more of their favorite memories from the show and how their lives had changed since, with Hoda also being asked what she believed to be Jenna's most annoying habit.

Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager in New Orleans to celebrate five years of "Today with Hoda and Jenna"© Instagram
Hoda and Jenna celebrated their five year anniversary with a special in New Orleans

"Such a mean [question]. Are they trying to break us up after five years?!" the former First Daughter responded, although Hoda decided to give it a go while keeping it friendly.

"We don't like to look for the flaws," she said. "However, if you're asking, it's also one of her plusses – she's wildly competitive. And even when she doesn't win, she's pretending like she won."

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This, Jenna affirmed, was actually quite true. "I am competitive," the mom-of-three added. "I'm actually working on my sportsmanship… just trying to make sure I'm a better sport."

Hoda explains she's going on a third date© Getty Images
"A lot of times friendships don't grow… Not ours. Every day it's something different," Hoda shared of Jenna

As for what's to come, Jenna asked her co-anchor who she would consider to be her "dream interview," and, perhaps spurred on by recent occurrences and having talked about her on the show in the past, she confessed that the honor went to none other than Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales.

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"I've always had this person on my [mind], and more now than ever before, but I've always wanted to interview Kate Middleton," she shared. "I just think she would be – first of all, we don't know a lot about her. She's going through all kinds of things with grace, so I think she would be my one."

Jenna Bush Hager was absent from Today due to illness © Getty Images
"The thing that I remember the most about you on that day – and every day since – is you're 100 percent yourself."

On the show, when they marked their five year anniversary earlier in the week, they emotionally recalled all the milestones they'd hit since starting as co-anchors, including welcoming kids and splits.

MORE: Jenna Bush Hager's three children are so grown up in coordinated outfits for latest family snap

"It feels so profound to sit next to somebody who exudes joy no matter what you have going on," Jenna said to Hoda. The latter added through tears: "We're an us, which is big."

TODAY -- Pictured: Hoda Kotb, Jenna Bush Hager and son Hal on Monday, April 8, 2024© Getty Images
Jenna's son Hal was a special guest on their anniversary show

"A lot of times friendships don't grow… Not ours. Every day it's something different," she continued, explaining how they'd grown from colleagues to dear friends and sharing that Jenna had helped her "heal" in many ways.

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