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Oprah Winfrey organised Clippers deal on Selma set

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Jun 02, 2014 | 6:06am EDT

Oprah Winfrey flew into a panic on the first day of filming her new movie Selma as she tried to juggle acting with organising a $1.6 billion bid for the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team. The TV titan was among the investors who formed a consortium to buy the sports team after its owner Donald Sterling became embroiled in a racism scandal. Winfrey was shooting the new Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic on the day she signed the paperwork for the bid, and had to run around the film lot looking for a fax machine to make sure the offer was put on the table. She tells Entertainment Tonight, "I was in the middle of these scenes while making the bid - literally the first day I was going to shoot... I had to run upstairs in the building, find a fax machine - we're putting in the bid and I'm signing it, and I'm thinking, 'How ironic is that? I'm playing a woman who can't get the right to vote, and now you're putting in a bid (to buy a professional sports team).'" Winfrey's consortium eventually lost out to former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer, who paid $2 billion for the team, and the chat show legend now admits her business advisers warned her against buying the Clippers. She adds, "We went over that number ($1.6 billion), and then we went over that number again, and by the time we got to the final number (it was no longer) a good business decision. But for me? I was doing it. You know, my lawyers were like, 'Do you even like basketball?' I said, 'Yes, I love basketball! And this is gonna be so much fun!'... I thought it would be entertaining... $2 billion? - Ok, now that's my limit!" Officials at the National Basketball Association ordered Sterling to sell the team and fined him $2.5 million (£1.6 million) after he was caught on tape making derogatory remarks about African Americans.

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