Addie Zinone claims that when she was 24 and working as a production assistant at the Today show, she entered a brief sexual relationship with Matt Lauer, who was in his 40s and married to current wife Annette Roque.
In a first-person account to Variety, Zinone, now 41, claims that on June 8, 2000, after two years at the Today show, Lauer sent her a message over an instant messaging system used for employees. “Hey, I hope you won’t drag me to personnel for saying this, but you look fantastic,” Lauer, then 42, reportedly wrote in the messages, obtained by Variety. “I don’t know what you have done, or what is going on in your life … but it’s agreeing with you.”
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She told Variety that thanked him and told him she had accepted a position in West Virginia and only had a few more weeks at the job. She also asked if she could get some advice from him before she left. He agreed, and then, according to Zinone, they didn’t speak again until July 12, when he allegedly messaged her again, saying she looked so good it was “a bit tough to concentrate.” She claims she answer right away, but when she did she asked again for a meeting and he set up a lunch.
After he allegedly flirted with her over lunch, she felt flattered but confused and overwhelmed. “He was there to hit on me and manipulate the situation, and I fell for it,” she told Variety. “Here’s how I should have known what I was getting myself into. When we left, he told me: ‘You leave first, and I’ll leave after.’ In no lunch I’d ever had at Today had anyone suggested we leave separately, as if something was up.”
When they were back at the office, she felt as though she had “an out of body experience,” and messaged him. He then allegedly responded, asking to meet in his dressing room above studio 1A. According to her account, she reminded him he was married, but they met anyway. “He opens the door. There you go. It crossed the line. It was a consensual encounter. It happened in his dressing room above studio 1A, which was empty in the afternoons,” she said. “He got in his car and I had to go back to work, and now my life had completely changed.”
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Zinone claimed their interactions happened multiple times over the next few weeks and they took a toll on her. When he allegedly asked her to come to his office one afternoon, she thought she’d finally get professional advice. “I sat across from him, and he pushes a button from his desk and the door shuts. It was embarrassing, because his secretary was sitting outside. He wanted to do stuff,” she claimed. “I was like, ‘No. I’m so in over my head. I’m not a performance artist.’”
The last time she saw him was that summer at the 2000 Democratic National Convention where he allegedly asked her to meet him in the bathroom. She did, as it was her last chance to talk to him. “So I went —and we had an encounter. He was like, ‘Alright. I’ll see you later,’” she claimed. “He had no interest in making sure I was cool.”
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