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Larry King interviews Paris Hilton on Wednesday about the 23 days she spent in a California jail. ((Kyle Christy/CNN/Associated Press) )

Socialite Paris Hilton gave her much-anticipated television interview on Wednesday night, explaining that she got to know herself during her "very traumatic" experience in a California jail.

The hotel heiressdid the hour-longspot on CNN's Larry King Live, her first interview since she was released Tuesday after serving 23 days in a Lynwood prison for violating her probation in an alcohol-related reckless driving case.

"It was a very traumatic experience, but I feel like God does make everything happen for a reason," 26-year-old Hilton, dressed in a conservative white lace sweater, told King.

"It gave me a time out in life.… I took that time to get to know myself. I have a new outlook on life."

CNN hyped-up its exclusive interview, running a count-down clock leading up to the 9 p.m. ET start of Larry King Live.

CNNlanded theinterview after a week of fierce network competition. NBC was rumoured to have offered up to $1 million US at one point for the chance to talk to Hilton first. The network later denied such an offer was made.

During the interview, Hilton said she passed her time meditating, reading books, writing in her journal and opening fan letters, which she would read, often in tears, on the metal bunk bed in her cell.

Hilton was in solitary confinement 23 hours a day, so in her one hour out of her cell she would shower and call her family.

She said it wasn't easy being in hercramped cell, which was only 2.4 metres by 3.6 metres, because she has claustrophobia. Besides a bunk bed, her room held a toilet, sink and metal desk.

Her meals were passed through a small hole in the cell and often consisted of a plain bologna sandwich, or "mystery meat" sandwich, as Hilton called it.

'Humiliating' strip search

Hiltonsaid one of the worst moments was being strip-searched when she first arrived at the jail on June 3.

"It was the most humiliating experience of my life," she said. "I've never had to do that in front of someone I didn't know. It was pretty embarrassing. It's pretty gross, taking your clothes off in front of someone like that."

Another hard moment was having to talk to her father, Richard Hilton, through a glass wall on Father's Day.

"It was the first Father's Day I couldn't give my father a hug and that was really hard for me," she said.

'I will never drink and drive again'

While Hilton insisted her sentence wasoverly harsh for the offence she committed, she said she was grateful for it.

"Even though I hated it, I'm glad I did it in a way. It's really changed my life forever," she said. "I feel like it's a blessing in disguise."

She said she's cut people who are bad influences out of her life and is trying to be more mature.Most importantly, she said she has learned her lesson when it comes to drinking and driving.

"I will never drink and drive again," she said. "Granted it was only one drink … but I should have never driven. I'll never make that mistake again. I take full responsibility."

She said she hopes others will learn from her mistakes and not get behind the wheel after drinking and hasalready heard from fans who say they are getting the message because of her.

Hilton would like to continue to spread the message andhopes to work with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Failed a sobriety test

Hilton failed a sobriety test on Sept. 7, 2006, after police saw her weaving down a street in her Mercedes-Benz.

She pleaded no contest to reckless driving and was sentenced to 36 months of probation, alcohol education and was given a $1,500 fine.

Later, she was stopped twice by officers who discovered her driving with a suspended licence, with the second stop landing her in jail.

She was initially released after three days for an unspecified medical condition but was hauled back a day later by Superior Court Judge Michael Sauer, who said he had not approved her release.

Angry MSNBC anchor crumples Hilton script

While CNN offered several hours of Hilton coverage Wednesday night, somejournalists appear to be growing weary of the Hilton story after weeks of constant coverage.

"I hate this story and I don't think it should be our lead," MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski said Tuesday on air before beginning her morning newscast.

She then pulled out a lighter and tried to set fire to her script, explaining that her producers had decided she should begin her newscast with a Hilton story.

When the paper wouldn't catch fire, she tore it up and crumpled it in a ball.

"I'm going to make a point. I'm done with the Paris Hilton story. I won't do this," she said. "I'm about to snap. I'm not doing it, I'm not doing the story."