Oprah's father says he's broke - WSMV Channel 4

Oprah's father says he's broke

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

He was once a millionaire, but Oprah Winfrey's father, Vernon Winfrey - who is going through a bitter divorce - says he is broke and close to losing everything.

Vernon Winfrey and his wife, Barbara Winfrey, married 12 years ago. Soon after, Oprah bought them a million dollar home in Franklin.

Now, the couple is divorcing, and Barbara Winfrey wants her husband to pay for the bills and expenses they still have together.

The trouble is Vernon Winfrey, 79, says he is out of money.

"I'm able to accept it. I came in this world with nothing, seems like I'll go out with nothing," Vernon Winfrey said.

He said that eight years ago, with the help of his daughter, he was a millionaire.

But he now only pockets $280 a month after expenses.

He accuses Barbara Winfrey of squandering their money in poor investments, including the East Nashville barbershop they operated, which went into foreclosure until Oprah bought it for just over $400,000 earlier this year.

"I think the people who she was dealing with took the Winfrey name, must have taken the Winfrey name. I had no say so in building this building," Vernon Winfrey said.

Barbara Winfrey disputes her husband's claims and said he still receives $25,000 each quarter in trust money from Oprah, not the roughly $4,000 he claims in divorce records.

"Mr. Winfrey has a secret trust account," she said.

In addition, Barbara Winfrey said most of the couple's money was spent on costs for the new shop and furnishing the $1.4 million home in Franklin, where she still lives.

"If I was going to steal money, don't you think I was going to buy a new Maserati or something, or would have bought a mink coat, some diamond rings or something like that? All I was trying to do was build a legacy," Barbara Winfrey said.

Records show Barbara Winfrey's monthly expenses are roughly $12,000, while her income is only $4,000.

Vernon Winfrey said since neither can afford to keep up the elaborate home, his wife needs to move out.

"This is just a perfect way to force me to get out, rather than to set me out. They want to force me out financially by cutting off all funds to me," Barbara Winfrey said.

Vernon Winfrey said he is now living with a friend - someone he considers like a son to him. He also points out, while he is in a tough financial spot, he believes his daughter Oprah still has his back.

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