Meredith Vieira on Leaving 'Today:' 'It's Right, But It's Hard' (Video)

5:33 AM PST 06/08/2011 by Lindsay Powers

The anchor celebrated her last day on the NBC morning show Wednesday.

Meredith Vieira's signed off NBC's Today show on Wednesday.

"Welcome to Today on a very bittersweet Wednesday," Matt Lauer said at the top of the show.

"It looks like I'm leaving," said Vieira, who was joined in the studio by her husband, Richard, and their dog, Jasper. Vieira has said she's leaving the NBC morning show after five years to spend more time with her family.

"It's tough. It's a hard one," she said of her decision. "[I have] very mixed emotions. I know it's right, but it's hard."

Her co-anchors shared their favorite memories of Vieira.

Natalie Morales recalled Vieira's Vancouver Olympic nickname: Miss Van-cougar. Al Roker said he most enjoyed their trip to Dublin together. Ann Curry, who will replace Vieira, joked about them both ending up soaking wet while reporting at the Beijing Olympics.

“This is when I really realized how out of control you could be,’’ Curry quipped, before growing serious. “That was the beginning of when I really felt like a sister to you."

Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford talked about Vieira acting as a guest producer on the fourth hour of Today, and feeding them grapes on the beach during one segment.

Said Gifford, "It seems like we’ve been saying goodbye to Meredith forever. "When is the woman leaving?!" (Vieira announced her decision on May 9.)

“None of us are happy about it," she added. “We’re broken-hearted."

Lauer had the kindest words for his co-host: "You don’t take yourself too seriously, you’re willing to laugh with a lot of other people, but also at yourself, and I think that’s been a terrific quality to have."

Breaking down in tears, Vieira said, "This is the best job, it really is, and I’m really going to miss it."

Vieira joined the show in 2006, replacing Katie Couric, who recently stepped down as anchor of the CBS Evening News and announced she's launching a syndicated talk show on ABC. Today has been the top-rated news program for more than 800 weeks. Last year, it earned half a billion dollars in ad revenue for NBC in the weekday morning hours alone.

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