Conan's seven-month tenure as host of NBC's The Tonight Show came to an end on the night of Jan. 22, 2010 after the late-night host opted to step down as part of a $45 million settlement instead of move to the 12:05 a.m. timeslot and follow Jay Leno, who at the time was hosting The Jay Leno Show in primetime. "Before we end this rodeo, a few things need to be said. There has been a lot of speculation in the press about what I legally can and can't say about NBC," Conan said before closing out his final NBC broadcast. "To set the record straight, tonight I am allowed to say anything I want," he said." And what I want to say is this: between my time at Saturday Night Live, the Late Night show, and my brief run here on The Tonight Show, I have worked with NBC for over 20 years. Yes, we have our differences right now and yes, we're going to go our separate ways. But this company has been my home for most of my adult life. I am enormously proud of the work we have done together, and I want to thank NBC for making it all possible. Walking away from The Tonight Show is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Making this choice has been enormously difficult. This is the best job in the world, I absolutely love doing it, and I have the best staff and crew in the history of the medium. But despite this sense of loss, I really feel this should be a happy moment. Every comedian dreams of hosting The Tonight Show and, for seven months, I got to. I did it my way, with people I love, and I do not regret a second. I've had more good fortune than anyone I know and if our next gig is doing a show in a 7-11 parking lot, we'll find a way to make it fun." Conan also told his audience: "To all the people watching, I can never thank you enough for your kindness to me and I'll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask of you is one thing: please don't be cynical. I hate cynicism- it's my least favorite quality and it doesn't lead anywhere." ALSO: Conan's goodbye technically aired on Jan. 23, 2010, the 5th anniversary of Johnny Carson's death -- Carson has now been dead for 15 years.