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SALT LAKE CITY — If the headline of this story seems familiar, it’s probably because you’ve read something similar before.
Former first lady Michelle Obama and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres will be headlining local tech company Qualtrics’ annual user conference in March, but it won’t be either woman’s first time in the Beehive State.
Michelle Obama headlined Pluralsight’s user conference in September 2017 while DeGeneres spoke at the tech company’s conference in August. Now, both women are set to return as Qualtrics’ guests.
Utah’s larger tech companies like Qualtrics, Pluralsight and Domo are known to draw big names to their conferences. In previous years, human rights activist Malala Yousafzai, famed NBA coach Phil Jackson, Olympian Michael Phelps, Broadway star Lin Manuel-Miranda, basketball legend Magic Johnson and skating pro Tony Hawk graced the companies with their presence.
In 2019 alone, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, talk show host Oprah Winfrey, comedian Trevor Noah, former President Barack Obama and DeGeneres, among others, visited Utah.
DeGeneres is a comedian and host of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," a talk show that’s been in syndication since 2003 and was recently renewed for three more seasons. She has also conceptualized and produced several other popular shows, including "Ellen’s Design Challenge," “Little Big Shots” with Steve Harvey and “Ellen’s Game of Games.”
When DeGeneres revealed that she was gay in 1997, her sitcom “Ellen” became the first prime-time show to feature an openly gay lead character. The show ended just a year later.
She’s hosted the Academy Awards twice, in 2007 and 2014, and has also appeared in several film productions, most notably as the forgetful blue fish Dory in Pixar’s “Finding Nemo” and its sequel “Finding Dory.”
She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016 by President Obama, who also came to Utah in March to headline Qualtrics’ 2019 summit.
The former president introduced himself to the crowd as “Michelle’s husband” during the conference and talked a little about his wife’s book, “Becoming.” The former first lady was the No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of 2018.
During her husband’s campaign for president, Michelle Obama was referred to as “the closer” for undecided voters who would attend his rallies, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. As first lady, she focused on supporting military families and ending childhood obesity.
Since the end of her husband’s tenure as president, Michelle Obama has been highly sought-after for speaking engagements, and some even hoped she would be a 2020 presidential candidate.
Michelle Obama and DeGeneres will also be joined onstage by Brene Brown, renowned researcher and a New York Times bestseller who is likely most well-known for her Netflix special, “The Call to Courage.”
Tickets to the entire conference cost between $1,250 and $1,900.