Talk show host David Letterman had a legendary 16-year-long feud with his rival, Oprah Winfrey. But what was the cause of their mutual animosity? Most people think it was started when Dave hosted the Academy Awards in 1995. He kicked off show by making a really awkward (and unfunny) joke, where he pretended to introduce Oprah to Uma Thurman.

The “joke” was that he repeated their odd names again and again: “Uma … Oprah! Oprah … Uma!” he said, continuing the leaden gag for what seemed like an eternity. Ever since then, people have assumed that this is why Dave and Oprah disliked each other. But on ‘Late Show’ (weeknights, 11:35PM on CBS), Dave revealed the actual reason — he stole a free lunch from Ms. Winfrey!

Letterman related the tale to guest Jon Stewart. “She hated me,” he told Jon. He then discussed an incident that took place “long before” the infamous Oscars failure. Apparently, Oprah and her boyfriend were at an expensive French restaurant when Dave and his then-girlfriend Regina showed up. David then came up with a “clever” idea.

“This is hilarious,” he said to his girlfriend. “I’m gonna make Oprah buy us lunch.” Oh, man! Don’t mess with the queen of showbiz like that! But the impressive part is that Letterman actually managed to pull it off. He simply told the water that the “lady” at the next table had agreed to pay for his meal. Then, upon leaving the restaurant, he waved cheerfully at Ms. Winfrey — sealing the deal (at least in the waiter’s eyes) that the two of them had an arrangement. Thus was lunch stolen from one of the most powerful women in America.

But was some free French food worth starting a feud spanning nearly two decades? Jon Stewart didn’t think so. “Oh, for f#ck’s sake,” he said, after hearing about the prank. … On the other hand, Oprah is worth at least $1.5 billion, so she can definitely handle picking up the tab from time to time. However, Dave also has a fair amount of money himself.

Well, at least Dave and Oprah managed to bury the hatchet, ending their years of rivalry in 2005. Although there’s no word on whether Letterman bough her an “apology” lunch after the two made up.

David Letterman: Why Oprah “Hated” Me

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