Oprah Winfrey, the media mogul and philanthropist, has sparked controversy and backlash on social media for asking people to donate to a fund that she and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson created to help the victims of the Maui wildfires.
Is Oprah Winfrey an Elitist? Why Her Maui Wildfire Donation Video Sparked Unexpected Reactions and Backlash
The People’s Fund of Maui, which was announced on August 31, 2023, aims to provide direct payments of $1,200 per month to adults whose homes were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable by the fires that swept through the island earlier this month. The fund was launched with an initial $10 million donation from Winfrey and Johnson, who are both part-time residents of Maui.
However, many people on social media were not impressed by Winfrey’s gesture, pointing out that she is worth $2.5 billion according to Forbes, and could easily donate more money to the cause herself. Some also questioned why she was asking the average middle-class American, who may be struggling financially due to the pandemic and other factors, to donate to the fund.
According to reports Oprah Winfrey owns owns a 163-acre estate in Maui, which only added to the criticism. Many were wondering why Winfrey did not collaborate with her other billionaire and millionaire friends to donate more money to the fund. She has access to some of the richest and most influential people in the world, so that’s definitely an interesting question.
There is also a good number of people who are defending Winfrey, saying that she was doing a good thing by creating the fund, and that she had no obligation to donate more money than she already did. They also praised her for giving direct payments to the affected residents, instead of going through intermediaries or bureaucracy.
However, overall the reactions have been mostly negative, such as the video below. Some people have went as far as labeling Oprah Winfrey as an elitist.
According to the People’s Fund of Maui website, more than 15,000 applications have been received so far, and more than $2 million have been distributed as of September 3, 2023. The fund will continue to operate as long as there are sufficient funds available.
The Maui wildfires, which started on August 8, 2023, were the deadliest and most destructive in U.S. history, killing over 115 people and destroying nearly 10,000 structures. The fires were fueled by strong winds, dry vegetation, and high temperatures. The cause of the fires is still under investigation.
Winfrey was once seen as one of the most generous and compassionate people in the world. She has donated millions of dollars to various causes over the years, such as education, health, women’s empowerment, and more. However, in the world of being famous, everything a person says or does is often times put under a microscope, and one bad moment can tarnish a legacy.
Could Oprah Winfrey asking people to donate to her Maui Wildfire fund be that moment for her, or are people overreacting?