In April 2014, 80-year-old Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling came under fire after private recordings of him making racist remarks were leaked to the media. In a daytime exclusive, Dr. Phil sits down with the woman at the center of the scandal, Sterling’s 31-year-old confidante, V. Stiviano. How does she say the tapes were leaked?
In April 2014, a recorded conversation between 31-year-old V. Stiviano and Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was leaked to the media. On the tapes, Sterling is heard making racist comments, creating a firestorm and landing the 80-year-old team owner in hot water. As a result of the controversy, Sterling was banned from the NBA for life and fined $2.5 million by the league — a fine that he has refused to pay, while threatening a lawsuit.
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Amid the media frenzy, Stiviano was seen wearing a reflective mask in public, even while roller skating. Mask-free, she sits down with Dr. Phil to share her side of the story. “I think you’re one of the best,” she tells Dr. Phil. “I think I have an opportunity in which I can speak the truth.” She denies starting the scandal, saying, “I shared some information with people in which I should not have, and they took it upon themselves to release, sell or give that audio — that I shared with them — to TMZ.”
She says she has been working for Sterling since they met through a mutual friend in 2011. “[Our mutual friend] mentioned to him that I worked at the district attorney’s office, interning, and that I wanted to be a lawyer,” she says of their first interaction. “[Sterling] rose to the occasion and said, ‘I’m a lawyer.’ And he said, ‘I also own the Los Angeles Clippers.’ And he said, ‘I have a non-profit organization, a charity, in which I think you might consider working with.’” A few months later, she claims that she contacted Sterling, and he asked her to send pictures so that he could remember her. “[The request] was kind of weird for me, but it is L.A., so … I said, ‘OK, why not?’ And I did that,” she says. “He interviewed me. He saw my résumé. He asked me questions regarding my skills and what I’ve done previously. He seemed impressed.”
How does Stiviano answer to Sterling’s claim that when the two first met, she propositioned him? And, what was the nature of their relationship?
“People really wonder: What are you doing to get four cars and a $1.8 million condo?”
Dr. Phil reads a comment that Sterling made — in newly-leaked audio recordings — to a man who described himself as a pimp: “He said, ‘She has a fabulous body, and she loves to have sex, and she’s just fun. And I think, what if I give her some money, and what if I helped her?’”
“Why would he say that? I don’t know,” she responds. “There’s no truth to it. I don’t know if this is him in those audios.”
“I want to be sure we’re not having a Bill Clinton moment here,” Dr. Phil says. “You say you’ve never had sex with him. Define sex.”
“Any type of sexual contact,” she responds, adding that she never led him on.
“You were just his assistant, and he just bought you all of these things,” Dr. Phil says.
“I was not only his assistant. I was his caretaker. I was his mother. I was his secretary. I was his driver. I did everything for this man, in the last three years,” she says.
Hear excerpts of the latest audio recording. “I’m telling you, she was hot!” And, Stiviano reacts to a lawsuit filed against her by Sterling’s wife.
Hear a portion of the recording that sparked the scandal — why did Stiviano document the conversation? And, how does she respond to Sterling’s claim that he was unaware he was being taped?
Stiviano insists that Sterling is not a racist. “It sounds that way, but it’s not,” she says. When Dr. Phil asks if she knows who leaked the recordings, she responds, “I think that we have the name of the person who did.” She says she cannot disclose that person’s name, for legal purposes. “It’s a friend of mine,” she says.
“How did they get the tapes?” Dr. Phil asks.
She admits that she shared a copy of the recording with “a couple” of her friends. “I did not once think this was going to happen,” she says, adding that she was naïve to do so. “If I thought that, I never would have sent it. I never would have released it.” She continues, “I didn’t think they were going to sell it. I did not put that audio out there for the world to know my private conversations that became public with Mr. Sterling.”
When asked if she “baited” Sterling, like he claimed in a recent interview, she says, “I never baited anyone. I’ve never forced anyone to say anything that they did not choose to say themselves.”
While watching an interview with Sterling, Stiviano grows emotional. Plus, are she and Sterling on speaking terms now?
Why did Stiviano wear a visor after the scandal broke?
“When you describe how you feel, on the tapes, about minorities, Mr. Sterling takes that to task. He says that he’s not a racist … he says you are,” Dr. Phil says. “He says that you are constantly bleaching your skin, trying to do things to change your identity. Is that true or false?”
“False,” she replies.
“Did he just make it up completely?”
“Not only did he make it up completely, he’s going through a lot. He’s trying to take the negative attention he’s been getting and redirect it into something or someone else. And right now, I am his punching bag, and I’m taking it all in,” she says. “I’m fully content and happy with the person that I am, the person that I’ve been, and the person that sits here on this couch today.”
Born Maria Vanessa Perez, Stiviano admits she’s had several different aliases, including Monica Gallegos, which she used after two shoplifting arrests. “I thought it was something that I would have gotten away with. I didn’t think it was going to come out 10 years later. It did. I was young. I was stupid,” she explains. “I changed my name because of my race. I’m biracial. I’m mixed. Living in L.A., it’s hard — you’re either not Mexican enough, black enough. It was just a lot to deal with, and I gave myself a name that made me happy.”
Dr. Phil asks if she’ll give back the lavish gifts from Donald Sterling, per the lawsuit filed by Sterling’s wife, which argues that they were community property and, therefore, received improperly.
She responds, “I can’t determine that. I don’t know why Mr. Sterling has allowed this legal process to continue. I don’t know why Mrs. Sterling is doing what she’s doing. Why am I the target? I don’t know.”
“You said you have many, many tapes. What are you going to do with the others?”
“Discard them and throw them away,” she responds.
producers reached out to Donald Sterling’s attorney, and as of this taping, there has not been a response.