‘The Rock’ has a hard conversation following the controversial Maui Relief Fund Video he made with Oprah Winfrey.
After facing backlash alongside media mogul Oprah Winfrey, retired professional wrestler and actor Dwayne Johnson is now breaking his silence about their joint efforts in launching a fund for the Maui wildfires.
The wildfires claimed the lives of dozens after leaving a devastating path of destruction on the once happy island. Many were left displaced while Johnson and Winfrey went viral for asking the public for donations. The continued backlash stems from fans and critics alike, slamming the two successful celebrities for their audacity to ask others to donate to the People’s Fund of Maui while allegedly failing to provide aid to those affected by the tragedy from their own pockets.
“When we first launched the fund, there was some backlash… And I want to address and acknowledge that backlash right now, and here’s what I have to say about that,” began Johnson in a video he posted to his Instagram.
“I get it. And I completely understand. And I could have been better, and next time I will be better. I understand money ain’t falling out of the sky and it’s not growing on trees.”
Johnson confided in his followers by saying:
“There’s a lot of people out there who’s living paycheck to paycheck and I get it and I know what that’s like. I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck. I know what that’s like and when you are living paycheck to paycheck, I don’t wanna speak for everybody I’ll speak for myself, but I feel it’s connected.
“When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, I was easily pissed off and I was frustrated, and the last thing you wanna hear when you’re living paycheck to paycheck is someone asking you for money, especially when the person asking you for money already has a lot of money.”
As a final remark, Johnson told his followers, “So I get it, I understand, I never launched a fund before but I’m a quick study, and lesson learned.”
During an appearance on CBS Mornings, Winfrey has also spoken out about the negative reactions ahead of the fund. She admitted that she felt “surprised” about the backlash and feels like the negative attention “took the focus off of what was the most important thing, which is the people of Maui.”
“So this idea came about because I was on the ground, talking to lots of people, trying to figure out how I can best help,” Winfrey said. Right after the incident, the renowned journalist wasted no time, pitching in at shelters by donating essential supplies.
Despite this, Winfrey shared that after speaking to those impacted, she learned that they “really wanted their own agency.”
Gayle King then helped Winfrey by sharing how Dolly Parton helped victims affected by the Gatlinburg, TN wildfires in 2017.
Parton raised money through a concert then distributed the money directly to families displaced by the disaster.
“I thought, ‘Whoa! That’s the idea,'” Winfrey said. So she partnered with Johnson to try to do the same.
“We thought, because both of us have given to charities our whole lives, that starting the fund with $10 million would be a great idea,” she explained. “We’ll do what Dolly did, get other people to give money and then we’ll put it directly into people’s bank accounts.”
“I was so excited. I was so excited about it,” she continued, “And then I got up the next morning, and I saw all of this vitriol, and I was, like, ‘Whoa, what happened here?'”
However, the two kept the fun open. Winfrey shares that they have since verified 2,200 people to receive money from the fund directly. Still, Winfrey expressed feeling “sad that we’re in this state in our country.”
While this certainly clears things up, it might take a little time before things die down. In the meantime, our hearts are with the people affected by the Maui fires.