Matt Lauer responds to 'Today' show announcement that Hoda Kotb is his replacement

Hoda Kotb, from left, Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker appear during the 85th annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017, in New York.

Hoda Kotb has officially replaced Matt Lauer on Today.

Kotb, who stepped in as Savannah Guthrie’s cohost when Lauer was fired over allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior, is now the official co-anchor on the NBC morning show, which has had a ratings increase since  Lauer’s departure.

“It’s 2018, and we are kicking off the year right because Hoda is officially the co-anchor of Today,” Guthrie announced on Today Tuesday morning. “This has to be the most popular decision NBC News have ever made, and I’m so thrilled.”

Kotb responded: “I’m pinching myself.”

“Hoda is, in a word, remarkable,” NBC News chairman Andy Lack said in a memo to employees Tuesday morning. “She has the rare ability to share authentic and heartfelt moments in even the most difficult news circumstances. It’s a tribute to her wide range and her innate curiosity.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. NBC had paid Lauer in excess of $20 million a year.

In between segments during Tuesday’s show, Kotb revealed to E! News that Lauer, who has largely been silent since leaving, privately congratulated her on the promotion.

“He was sweet this morning. Certain texts popped up, and there was one from Matt: ‘Congratulations!’ ” Kotb told E! News. “And he said some nice words.

“It meant the world to me to hear from him,” she said. “It was really nice.”

Her obvious chemistry with Guthrie has helped the show get through the most difficult period in its 67-year-history. Lauer was fired Nov. 29 after several former coworkers came forward with claims of sexual assault and inappropriate workplace behavior. At least one former NBC reporter claimed NBC executives knew about Lauer’s behavior and protected him.

Since Kotb stepped in to replace Lauer, the show has topped ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS This Morning for four consecutive weeks. Kotb and Guthrie are the first pair of women to anchor Today.

“When you click with someone — man, woman — it doesn’t matter. If it works, it works,” Kotb told People magazine. “We’re sort of like sisters, and everybody wants a sister.”

Kotb, who joined NBC News in 1998 as a correspondent for Dateline, will still cohost Today’s fourth hour alongside Kathie Lee Gifford.

CBS has not yet announced a permanent replacement for former CBS This Morning host Charlie Rose, who was also forced out over allegations of sexual misconduct. Longtime CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour has been cohosting the show on an interim basis.

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