NPR logo Jay Leno's Very Classy 2004 Speech About Handing Off 'The Tonight Show'

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Jay Leno's Very Classy 2004 Speech About Handing Off 'The Tonight Show'

Currently kicking around the Internet: This is Jay Leno, speaking in 2004 about why, when NBC suggested handing off The Tonight Show to Conan O'Brien in 2009 (as an enticement to Conan, who was reportedly getting other offers), he agreed that 2009 was a good end date. In the clip, Leno says that he wants to go out on top, and that he doesn't want to do the show into his sixties anyway. Thus, he will keep the show number one for the next five years and then hand it off to Conan O'Brien with no regrets, avoiding the bad feelings that surrounded his ascension to the throne when Johnny Carson retired.