Oprah Winfrey, whose diet struggles are well-documented, has thrown her celebrity and marketing heft behind Weight Watchers.

Oprah Winfrey. Photo via PR Newswire
The company’s paper value ballooned Monday when it was announced she had bought a 10 percent stake for $43.2 million.

The 61-year-old actress and network owner is buying about 6.4 million shares of Weight Watchers in a five-year deal. She also joins the company’s board, which grows from nine to 10 members.

Weight Watchers shares climbed almost 37 percent in premarket trading and doubled in value during the trading day.

“Weight Watchers has given me the tools to begin to make the lasting shift that I and so many of us who are struggling with weight have longed for,” Winfrey said. “I believe in the program so much I decided to invest in the company and partner in its evolution.”

Jim Chambers, president and CEO of Weight Watchers International Inc. said: “We are expanding our purpose from focusing on weight loss alone to more broadly helping people lead a healthier, happier life.

“Through our conversations, it became clear that there is tremendous alignment between Oprah’s intention and our mission. We believe that her remarkable ability to connect and inspire people to realize their full potential is uniquely complementary to our powerful community, extraordinary coaches and proven approach.”

Ray Debbane, chairman of the board, said: “Weight Watchers and Oprah Winfrey make a powerful combination. Oprah is a force of nature in connecting with people on a very personal level to live inspired lives. This partnership will accelerate our transformation and will meaningfully expand our ability to impact many millions of people worldwide.”

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