On Monday, Willie Geist will join the 9 a.m. hour of TODAY as the show's newest co-anchor. Willie has worked for MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and "Way Too Early" for several years, but he's a well-known face around TODAY after guest hosting Kathie Lee and Hoda and filling in for other anchors.
We already know Willie likes "girlie" cocktails, cheats at hot dog-eating contests and that his ideal last meal would include Chili's Southwestern egg roll, but we threw a few more questions his way before his on-air debut. Here's what he had to say.
What are three things TODAY fans should know about you?
1. I met my wife in Mr. Kaplan’s 6th grade homeroom class at George Washington Middle School in Ridgewood, N.J. We have two young kids — a girl and a boy.
2. I’m 6-foot-4. If my life depended on it, I could still dunk a basketball. Then I would need assistance from a first responder to get down from the rim.
3. I often eat Skippy’s Super Chunk peanut butter out of the jar with a spoon. I don’t shamefully sneak it in the dark of night when everyone is in bed. I just twist that cap off and go to town right out in the open.
How have you prepared for the early morning hours? What’s your morning routine?
I’ve been waking up at 3:30 a.m. to co-host MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” for five-and-a-half years now, so the TODAY schedule constitutes sleeping-in for me. My routine is to ride that snooze button as far as it will take me, take a quick shower, get dressed in the dark and bolt out the door.
What’s your ideal day?
An ideal day starts with putting on a good, smart, fun show where I learn something and ends with me fending off atomic knee drops from my two kids in our no-holds-barred pillow fight/steel cage matches. They are a ruthless tag team.
What makes you most excited about joining TODAY?
First of all, I’m walking into an iconic television franchise. There is only a small handful of people in the history of TV who've had the privilege of being a member of the TODAY family. The current members of that family — Matt, Savannah, Natalie, Al, Kathie Lee and Hoda — are all friends of mine. It’ll be fun to work with them every day in pushing the show forward.
The other thing that excites me is all that leftover food from the cooking segments. I won’t have to buy lunch for years to come.
What book are you currently reading?
“Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power” by Jon Meacham.
What song is playing on repeat on your iPod?
“Below My Feet” by Mumford and Sons. I can’t stop.
What’s your guilty pleasure TV show?
Anything on ESPN Classic. When my wife walks in and I’m watching the 1997 Sugar Bowl, it can be hard to explain.
Do you have any pets?
My kids each have a little fish named (oddly, perhaps) for their cousins Drew and Kieran. In a small NYC apartment, that’s about all we have room for at the moment.
If you could write your own fortune cookie – what would it say?
“A wise man does not eat a brittle, flavorless cookie just to find generically inspirational message inside. Go have an Oreo.”
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Watch some vintage Willie video!
Willie and Williams' Vancouver night
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Hoda shows Willie how to walk like a woman
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Willie Geist: Gimme five!