PLYMOUTH, Minn. - After becoming the victim of a video gone viral, Annie Stensrud is finally sharing her side of the story.
"It feels good to finally talk about it," says the 28-year-old television news anchor and reporter. "It's still hard to believe all of this."
Stensrud has covered news stories in Austin, Rochester and Grand Forks, but last December as a weekend anchor at KEYC-TV in Mankato, it was a Sunday night broadcast that brought her recognition she never wanted.
During the broadcast, Stensrud was slurring her words and appeared unprepared, enough so, she was unable to finish the newscast. She says it was a reaction to anti-anxiety medication.
"Some days I was really talkative and others I was in a fog," she recalls. "The fog got heavier the more I took it."
However, some viewers thought otherwise and a video surfaced on YouTube claiming the anchor was drunk.
"I wasn't drunk and I hadn't been drinking," she admits.
Regardless, the video quickly went viral. The story about a "drunk anchor" spread to media outlets around the country and then hit late-night TV.
"I was shocked," she says. "I had a friend in Germany tell me that she had heard about it."
Following the broadcast and the online video clip, Stensrud says she was "very depressed" and "responded by drinking."
"The things I was hearing were incredibly hurtful," she recalls. "I thought my life and my career was over."
Several weeks later, Stensrud was arrested for DUI. It was the wake-up call she says she needed as she battled with alcohol.
"It grabbed a hold of me and I needed help," she says. "I couldn't have done it on my own."
She has since parted ways with KEYC-TV in Mankato and now lives with family in Plymouth. Although some videos and articles still exist online, Stensrud is committed to moving on.
"There's no need to go back and read what people wrote about me. It doesn't help," she says. "I'm a better person before it happened and I hope that gets even better in the future."
Stensrud is now committed to a sober lifestyle and a return to television news is still a goal as she looks forward to the next chapter.
"People have heard my story now," Stensrud said. "They know that I'm not perfect and it makes me better equipped to tell theirs."
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