Kathie Lee Gifford says Howard Stern asked for forgiveness after feud: 'God can touch anybody's heart'

The former 'Today' co-host has written a new book, 'I Want to Matter: Your Life Is Too Short and Too Precious to Waste'

Kathie Lee Gifford was stunned when Howard Stern called to apologize.

The former "Today" co-anchor has written a new book titled "I Want to Matter: Your Life Is Too Short and Too Precious to Waste." It explores the power of self-love and features self-reflecting questions for readers to better understand their hopes and dreams.

In the book, she discussed the power of forgiveness – and how it ended a decades-long feud with the notorious shock jock.


A split side-by-side image of Kathie Lee Gifford and Howard Stern

Kathie Lee Gifford and Howard Stern had a feud that lasted for decades. (Getty Images)

"It was a surprise to get a voicemail from Howard Stern," the 70-year-old recalled to Fox News Digital. "Once I listened to it, I said to my kids at the table, ‘Well, pigs have now officially flown. . . . [But] I just always believe God can touch anybody’s heart . . . I’m not allowed to hate anybody that hates me. Once you start praying for people, you can’t hate them. Love cannot live where hate does, and it’s a very simple thing."

"As you grow in your faith, you learn, ‘I've got to pray for that person right now. What they just said was so horrible,’" said Gifford. "Just pray. Ask God to heal them, because hurt people, hurt people. It’s the truth."

A side profile view of Kathie Lee Gifford smiling

Kathie Lee Gifford smiles prior to singing the national anthem before Super Bowl XXIX between the San Francisco 49ers and the San Diego Chargers at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, Florida. The 49ers won the game, 49-26. (Getty Images)

The bad blood first boiled in 1995 after Gifford had been chosen to sing the national anthem at Super Bowl XXIX. Her husband, NFL star Frank Gifford, would be hosting the live telecast. According to the book, Gifford heard booing as she sang "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Kathie Lee Gifford singing on stage

Kathie Lee Gifford is seen here singing the national anthem. (Mike Powell/ALLSPORT/Getty Images)

Gifford soon learned that Stern had asked his fans to boo Gifford when she was introduced on stage. Gifford described the experience as "completely surreal" as she had never met Stern nor listened to his radio show.

But everything would change years later when Stern was a guest on "Today" to announce he was joining the judging panel at "America’s Got Talent."

Howard Stern in mid-sentence wearing all black

Thirty years later, Kathie Lee Gifford would make a decision that left Howard Stern stunned. (Dario Cantatore/Getty Images)

"The Lord… said, ‘Kathie, go down and say hello to him, and wish him well with the show,’" said Gifford. "And I said, ‘OK Lord.’ I got up out of my hair and makeup [room]. Those girls had been told, ‘Don’t let Kathie go anywhere near the studio.’… I couldn't care less. I go downstairs. They go, ‘Where are you going?’ I said, ‘I’m going to go say hello to Howard.’"

Howard Stern wearing a blue denim shirt and round sunglasses

Howard Stern is seen here in New York City, circa 1995. (Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)


Kathie Lee Gifford says Howard Stern asked for forgiveness after decades-long feudVideo

"He’s very, very tall, and I was in my little flats coming in from Connecticut," said Gifford. ". . . There were so many people that day because he brings quite the entourage . . . I said, ‘Hey, it’s Kathie Lee.’ I thought it was about time. I said, ‘I want to wish you all the best with the new show.’ I got up, went back, sat down in the makeup room. They’d said, ‘Why’d you do that?’ I said, ‘God told me to.’"

Gifford thought nothing more about that meeting. Later that day, she was hopping on a plane to attend her son’s graduation at USC. She received a phone call. There was no caller ID. 

It was Stern.

Howard Stern speaking to a mic

Kathie Lee Gifford said Howard Stern called to apologize. (Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

"He left a voicemail, and he says – I can’t even use the language that he used," said Gifford. "It was a lot of F-words, but he was saying, ‘I can’t believe how nice you were to me. I’ve been so rude to you and you were so nice. I just need to apologize to you. Please call me.’"

Not knowing how to reach Stern back, Gifford didn’t return his call.

Book cover for Kathie Lee Giffords "I Want to Matter"

Kathie Lee Gifford has written a new book, "I Want to Matter." (Thomas Nelson)

placeholder"We’re having dinner, and I see the no-caller ID," said Gifford. "I said, ‘That’s him.’ My husband and son did not want me to take that call. He was horrible to me and horrendous to my entire family ... I’d never met the man, never until that day, never listened to his show or anything like that. I [heard] he said certain things about me. I’d go, ‘Why? I don’t even know the man.’"


Kathie Lee Gifford wearing a satin green-yellow dress next to Frank Gifford in a suit and bow tie.

Kathie Lee Gifford said that at first, her husband Frank Gifford didn't want her to speak with Howard Stern. (Harold Cook/FilmMagic/Getty Images)

Gifford said she had a private conversation with Stern where he "asked me to forgive him."

A side view of Kathie Lee Gifford in a burgundy sweater

Kathie Lee Gifford was surprised when Howard Stern asked for her forgiveness. (Nathan Congleton/NBC via Getty Images)

"I said, ‘I’m really happy for you that you’re asking for forgiveness, because anytime we hurt somebody in life, it’s important to ask for forgiveness,’" she said. "’But I just want you to know that I forgave you 30 years ago.’ He goes, ‘What?’ I said, ‘I forgave you 30 years ago, and I’ve been praying for you every day since. And it’s the truth. He goes, ‘Oh my God.’ I said, ‘Would you like to come to dinner sometime?’ He goes, ‘You’d have me at your house?’ I said, ‘Of course.’"

Kathie Lee Gifford speaking to a mic next to a painting of a dove

Kathie Lee Gifford told Fox News Digital she still prays for Howard Stern every day. (Janette Pellegrini/WireImage/Getty Images)

"He’s a very odd duck," said Gifford. "But then I saw him a couple of times over at Sirius, and we were fine. I can get along with a rock."

Gifford said her faith in God made it "easy" to forgive Stern. According to her book, Stern told Gifford she "pissed him off because I was everything he wasn’t."

A spokesperson for Stern, 70, didn’t immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

Today, there are no hard feelings, Gifford insisted. She still prays for him every day.

Kathie Lee Gifford wearing an off-shoulder white lace dress

Kathie Lee Gifford told Fox News Digital that her faith made it easy to forgive. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

"I can find something good in anybody," said Gifford. "That’s what my faith teaches me."

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