Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager got emotional while opening up about their big career breaks on Wednesday's episode of Today With Hoda and Jenna, with Hager sharing just how important her co-star has been in getting her where she is today. Kotb began the segment talking about her own struggles getting a job out of college, admitting she "kind of thought that [she] was gonna get a job right away."
Getting rejected for the first time came as a surprise for Kotb, who said she expected that having worked hard and graduating from college would prevent the constant stream of rejection she faced. "There is a point when you get so many that your whole self-esteem goes down the toilet," she explained. "You start thinking, 'I made a mistake. All these people can't be wrong.'"
One person would change Kotb's life forever — Stan Sandroni of Greenville, Mississippi. "He hired me when no one else would. I'll never forget it," she said. "This guy believed, and that's so shocking. You just need the one." Hager then asked her co-star, "Do you know who my one would be? You."
Getting emotional, Hager recalled how one invite from Kotb changed her life forever. "I know that sounds cheesy and I almost didn't say it, but I was here for years doing a lot of different things. I worked really hard. I had producers say, 'You're a correspondent. That's where you are.' That was good," she said through tears. "That's where I wanted to be. I wanted to tell stories. And you asked me to fill in with you, and I'll never forget it. My one was you."
Hager joined Kotb as her full-time co-host in 2019 after Kathie Lee Gifford's exit, and the two have become a daytime power team. Earlier this month, when Kotb was presented with the Matrix Award for her work in communication, Gifford looked back on her initial break: "Hoda's story is so inspirational because she just was up against all odds to even get her first job in television." Hager added, "She has worked so hard to get where she is, but she never forgets where she's from."