Jay Leno: Last week my next guest became the U.S. Figure Skating Champion when she received 8 out of, um, (hits book on desk) 9 perfect scores, making ice skating history. Please welcome Michelle Kwan.

Audience applauds. Michelle walks out in a black outfit with a rose down the middle of her shirt.

JL: Hey, it's good to see you again.

Michelle Kwan: You too.

JL: Congratulations on the big win. No one's ever won this big, right?

MK: Um, I don't think so, uh, not since, the beginning of skating, I think.

JL: Wow you're being modest. (Michelle giggles and falls back into her chair.) I mean no one has, right? I mean describe the feeling now, set the whole stage.

MK: Well, after my long program , you know, I was so happy with my performance, I was just like, "Oh my god, I can't expect any more." And then I got there, and I saw the 6.0s and I was like, "Oh my god...am I seeing this clear? Oh my god!" And, you know, I just wanted to faint. My coach and I were like, ok Frank, catch me, catch me please. (She giggles)

JL: Well we have the tape, lets show this, show the tape, here we go.

They show Michelle and Frank at nationals receiving her scores. Audience cheers.

JL: That's pretty amazing. That's the highest score ever, right?

MK: Yep.

JL: Now did you like, human nature, did you say to yourself, uhhh, who gave me the 5.9?

MK: Yes, of course, you know a lot of friends ask me you know, who was that 5.9, who gave you that 5.9? I'm gonna go tell 'em, and tell them to give you a 6.0. I was like, I don't know, I don't wanna find out.

JL: See, do you normally not know, or do you choose not to find out?

MK: I choose not to find out

JL: Oh that's interesting

MK: Because I see the judges all the time, and I don't want to be like, you gave me a 5.9? (puts her hands on her hips)

JL: And that's like, one-tenth, it

MK: Yeah, it doesn't really matter, but you know, it's how you skate

JL: Right right, you had a fracture, right, not that far, before, how far, before this event was your leg fracture.

MK: Well, I had a stress fracture two weeks, um 2 months before the competition, um, I had a cast up to here. (points to her left knee) I wasn't able to walk around or anything. I was a little worried.

JL: A little worried?

MK: A little world, worried, definitely.

JL: Now what's the worst injury you've ever skated with? Would that be it?

MK: Yeah. Well everybody says, it's, you know, the toe right here (points to it), and everybody always calls it the famous toe. (She giggles) The famous toe, you know everybody talks about, oh my god, she hurt her toe, and toe, and toe, and.

JL: Yeah. Do you pamper your feet, do you have like, awwwww, like sit with them in ice or warm water or something? I mean, is it, cause skates are rough on your feet.

MK: Well, I must say that ballerinas and skaters have the worst, the ugliest feet of all time, I'm serious, oh my god.

(Laughter)

Burt Reynolds: I found that true.

Everyone laughs

MK: Did you?

JL: I mean, really, why is that, because it's all?

MK: Because the boots, I mean they're so hard, it's like wearing a pair of new shoes everyday. And it kills your feet, and you know, it may look glamorous, you know, the tights, and, you know, the nice white boot, but it's not. Inside it's stuffed with, like, cushion pads, and, you know and bunions, and never mind

Everyone laughs

JL: Between you and Kate, (Winslet) you've ruined all my fantasies.

Everyone laughs

JL: Let me ask you about (pauses while audience claps) oh look honey, her feet are full of bunions, when we're watching. Those are old bunion feet. Now, you and Tara Lipinski of course, are huge rivals. Now I guess she fell? Did you see that? Does that psyche you?

MK: No, I mean, um, I went to the rink, I skated at the end, um, and you know, Tara had already skated. I didn't really pay attention to anything, and I just went, OK, gotta skate. That's it

JL: Do you try not to watch the other competitors? Does it throw you off?

MK: I think it throws you off, because whatever happens to them, happens to them, you know, you gotta mind your own business, have tunnel vision and focus.

JL: Right right right

MK: Yeah

JL: So now you're off to the off to the Olympics in Japan. This is your first time right?

MK: (Shakes her head) Well, I was the alternate in '94. You know, I was thrown into the Nancy and Tonya thing.

JL: Oh, that's right, that's right.

MK: I was the alternate so, I was, um, just standing as an audience, just watching skating.

JL: So that leg fracture could've been a lot worse.

Everyone laughs

JL: So when did you, now I would assume, this would be always be your dream to do this, right? Now did you think you would like to do it one day, was it not even in your consciousness, or as a small child did you think, oh.

MK: I think that when it really hit me that I wanted to go to the Olympics, was when I watched Brian Boitano win the Gold Medal, and I was like, OK, I'm gonna go to Olympics, I'm gonna go to Olympics (nods her head), and I didn't think you have to go to Nationals, or work hard, you know, I thought, OK I'm going to Olympics, that's, I'm going to Olympics.

JL: You could just go.

MK: Yeah, exactly, just go.

JL: Now, OK, here it is like a month before, do you get paranoid, do you worry about, I don't know, catching a cold or falling down the stairs, or I mean do you just try to go through life? (Michelle laughs) No no, I mean seriously?

MK: I think it's, um, I get very paranoid, you know, if someone's coughing or something, I'm like (Scoots over in her chair and covers her face with one hand) don't talk to me, you know, it's like I worry...

Burt Reynolds coughs loudly toward Michelle

Michelle falls back in her chair laughing and covering her head

(Everyone laughs)

Michelle hits Burt

BR:A little humor, I'm sorry

JL: Do you have any good luck charms. Are you superstitious like that?

MK: I've got a good luck charm around my neck that I always wear, given by my grandma...a long time ago. (shows Jay her necklace)

JL: Oh that's nice. (Points to it) Is that a Chinese symbol?

MK: Yeah, it's a dragon.

JL: Oh, OK, yea, that's neat, that's good

MK: I have a lot of superstitions, you know, I have to tie my my left skate on before my right, and things like that

JL: Now, why? What happens if you do it the other way around?

MK: I, don't, know. I've never tried it before!

(Everyone laughs)

JL: Wow, you're gonna be like those crazy cat ladies when you're old.

MK: Yeah, I'm like (pretends to tie her skates)

JL: Now what do you do in your spare time? Have you seen Titanic?

MK: Oh, it was awesome.

KW: Thank you.

(Audience cheers)

(Michelle claps)

JL: You're 17 now, right? (Michelle nods.) You're 17, so you can't see Boogie Nights.

(Everyone laughs)

Michelle looks at Burt

JL: Are you a Leonardo fan?

MK: Definitely, two thumbs up. (puts her thumbs up) Yeah.

(Screams come from the audience)

JL: Kind of a crush maybe would you say?

MK: No no (laughs) A stalk.

JL: Supposed he asked you out. Would you go out with him if he asked you out?

Michelle looks at Jay in astonishment, then nods her head real fast

KW: You asked the girl a stupid question.

MK: Yeah.

JL: I don't know, I don't know.

BR: I'd go out with him!

(Everyone laughs)

JL: Michelle, good luck, God bless you (shakes her hand)

MK: Thank you.

JL: We'll be right back after this. Michelle Kwan

Huge thanks to Chase Martin for this transcript!

Listen to the interview, and check out this photo from after the show taping.

Thanks to Grace for the audio clip.


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Photo Jay Adeff