TODAY's Takeaway: Maya Angelou dies at 86; Kerry reacts to Snowden

TODAY's news: Poet Maya Angelou dies at 86 and Secretary of State John Kerry responds to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's statements.

1. News broke during Wednesday’s broadcast that author, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou had died in her home at the age of 86.

Angelou was a longtime friend of TODAY, where she appeared numerous times over the years to share her regal presence, wisdom, insights and details of her rich life.

2. In an exclusive interview with NBC's Brian Williams, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden blamed the State Department for stranding him in Russia, saying he "never intended" to wind up there.

"I personally am surprised that I ended up here," Snowden said in the interview, an excerpt of which aired on TODAY Wednesday morning.

3. Secretary of State John Kerry told TODAY's Savannah Guthrie he would be “delighted” for Edward Snowden to return from Russia to make his case, and that a “real patriot” would return home.

We want you to weigh in: Do you view Snowden as a #Patriot or #Traitor?

4. An anonymous donor is hiding money in California and leaving clues on Twitter as to where people can find the stashes of cash. And now the scavenger hunt is expanding.

5. Would you know how to spell “onomatopoeia” or “arrhythmia” without seeing the words? Al and Natalie tried ahead of the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

And that’s TODAY’s Takeaway!