Moments after the 63-year-old entrepreneur and billionaire made the speech in Los Angeles, an address about confronting racial and gender inequality, social media lit up with hashtags declaring #Oprah2020.
Leslie Odom Jr, who played Aaron Burr in the Broadway musical Hamilton, was among those to throw his support behind her: “She’s running. A new day is on the way,” he tweeted.
At the event, Ms Winfrey said she had no plan to run for the White House. Yet her partner Stedman Graham, told the LA Times: “It’s up to the people. She would absolutely do it.”
On Monday morning, CNN said the celebrity was “actively thinking” about a run, according to two of her close friends who requested anonymity. Some of her confidants have been privately urging her to run, the sources said.
Ironically, the ascension of Mr Trump to the White House – the first President in modern history without either governing or military experience – may have made it easier for Ms Winfrey to run.
The celebrity businesswoman and television personality has always played down a political future. She did so again on Sunday, after delivering a speech that promised “a new day” for women, saying “I don’t”, when asked by Bloomberg News if she had a plan to run.
Gayle King, Ms Winfrey’s close friend, said: “I thought that speech was incredible. I got goosebumps.”
CNN said its sources said the conversations with Ms Winfrey dated back several months. The person emphasised that the star had not made up her mind about running.
It is not the first time that Ms Winfrey's name has been associated with a White House bid. She supported both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and amid the 2016 election drama, Donald Trump had suggested she ought to be his running mate – a suggestion she did not appear to take seriously.
During the ceremony, Seth Meyers added fuel to the idea that Ms Winfrey might have a career in politics ahead of her.
“In 2011, I told some jokes about our current President at the White House Correspondents Dinner, jokes about how he was unqualified to be President,” he said.
“And some have said that night convinced him to run. And if that’s true, I would just like to say Oprah you will never be President... now we just wait and see.”
Ms Winfrey – OWN founder, former talk show host, actress, film and TV producer and humanitarian – earned multiple standing ovations at the awards.
She spoke about the feelings she had as a young girl watching Sidney Poitier win the best-actor Oscar in 1964, and likened the pride she felt watching Poitier, the first black man to win that trophy, to the impact she hoped she could have on young women today, the Associated Press reported.
“His tie was white and of course his skin was black and I had never seen a black man being celebrated like that,” she said.
She also told the story of a black woman from Alabama named Recy Taylor, who died at the age of 97 on December 28, 2017, and her fight for justice after being raped by six white men in 1944.
She expressed gratitude for Ms Taylor and all the women who were silenced when they spoke out about powerful men: the women who worked in factories, farms, as domestic workers and in academia, whose names will never be known.
“For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men,” she added.
“But their time is up! Their time is up! Their time is up!”
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