Dwayne Johnson addresses backlash after asking fans to donate to Maui fund

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By Nasima Khatun

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Dwayne Johnson has addressed the backlash he received after asking fans to donate to his Maui fund.

It all started when the 51-year-old announced that he would be raising money in collaboration with Oprah Winfrey for those who had lost their homes in Maui due to the devastating wildfires that ravaged the area in August.

At the time, Hawaiian Governor Josh Green revealed that rescue efforts were focused on re-locating missing residents. Numbers started at approximately 3,000 and as authorities worked tirelessly to recover those who were still unaccounted for, those numbers eventually reduced to 385.

Now the numbers stand at around 12, as per a recent report by the San Fransisco Chronicle. In total 115 people were reported to have died.

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Burned cars line the street in a neighborhood on August 17, 2023 in Lahaina, Hawaii. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty

Maui Mayor Richard T. Bissen also revealed in a statement that they had underestimated the fires.

"The early hours of a disaster unfolded with our emergency responders facing conditions that were made extraordinarily difficult, with high wind, falling debris, including utility poles, and a rapidly advancing wildfire," Bissen said. "The severe gravity of the impact was not clear in the initial hours, as our firefighters and police on the ground placed all of their efforts and actions towards helping people in the areas.

"As the evening of the first day came, the horrific effects of the wildfire in Lahaina became apparent," he continued before adding: "The realization that we had lost lives was devastating."

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Maui police officers help pack truckloads of food and supplies. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/Getty

In response to the disaster, Johnson and Winfrey decided to set up a fund dedicated to raising money towards rebuilding efforts which was not well received by fans.

Titled the People's Fund of Maui, both stars stated that they would be kick-starting the donations off with 10 million dollars before asking others to donate to the funds too.

Have a look at the clip below:

"We were so concerned about what was happening in Maui that we were texting back and forth," said Winfrey in a social media video shared by both of them back in August.

Johnson elaborated on the funding details, stating: "Every adult resident who lives in the affected area and was displaced by the wildfires in Lahaina and Kula is eligible to receive $1,200 per month to help them through this period of recovery."

Johnson then emphasized that this is a trust-worthy organization stating: "I know a lot of people out there — as Oprah and I’ve been finding — are just having a hard time trusting where the money goes, what organizations should I send money to, how can I help?"

He continued: "In this case, the fund that we created — with a lot of hard work from a lot of hardworking people who all care about these people of Maui — as Oprah was saying, it is a clean, direct from you, directly to their hands, and right away, with some real immediacy.

"With disasters like this, the number one need is money in hand," Johnson stated before Winfrey doubled down adding: "People being able to have their own agency, being able to make decisions for themselves about what they need and what their family needs, that’s our goal is to get that to the people now."

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Buildings still smolder days after a wildfire gutted downtown Lahaina in August. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/Getty

However, fans were not too convinced that this was a good idea, with many slamming the pair for not using their "billionaire status" more wisely and funding the project themselves rather than asking ordinary people to contribute amid a cost of living crisis.

In response, Johnson has now addressed the drama.

Taking to Instagram yesterday, the former WWE wrestler emphasized that he understood the backlash.

"When we first launched the fund, there was some backlash... I want to say that I get it, and I completely understand," he said. "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, and 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, seven bucks. I know."

He continued: "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 p**sed off, and I was frustrated. And the last thing you want to hear when you are living from paycheck to paycheck is someone asking you for money, especially when the person asking you for money already has a lot of money.

"So I get it. I understand. I'd never launched a fund before, but I'm a quick study and lesson learned," he added.

Previously, Winfrey also addressed the scandal during an interview with CBS Mornings.

"...The online attacks, lies, conspiracy theories, really 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," she said.

The talk show host also revealed that she was there firsthand to make sure the funds were being used correctly.

"Then I started talking to people and people really wanted their own agency," she continued, noting that Gayle King's son had sent her an article about Dolly Parton, who organized her support fund to aid victims of the 2017 fires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. "I thought, 'Whoa! That’s the idea. Getting the money into the hands, directly into the hands of the people - set up the end structure for that.'"

She added: "I was so excited. I was so excited about it, and then I got up the next morning, and I saw all of this vitriol, and I was, like, 'Whoa, what happened here?'"

Featured Image Credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/WireImage/Getty

Dwayne Johnson addresses backlash after asking fans to donate to Maui fund

vt-author-image

By Nasima Khatun

Article saved!Article saved!

Dwayne Johnson has addressed the backlash he received after asking fans to donate to his Maui fund.

It all started when the 51-year-old announced that he would be raising money in collaboration with Oprah Winfrey for those who had lost their homes in Maui due to the devastating wildfires that ravaged the area in August.

At the time, Hawaiian Governor Josh Green revealed that rescue efforts were focused on re-locating missing residents. Numbers started at approximately 3,000 and as authorities worked tirelessly to recover those who were still unaccounted for, those numbers eventually reduced to 385.

Now the numbers stand at around 12, as per a recent report by the San Fransisco Chronicle. In total 115 people were reported to have died.

wp-image-1263231948 size-full
Burned cars line the street in a neighborhood on August 17, 2023 in Lahaina, Hawaii. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty

Maui Mayor Richard T. Bissen also revealed in a statement that they had underestimated the fires.

"The early hours of a disaster unfolded with our emergency responders facing conditions that were made extraordinarily difficult, with high wind, falling debris, including utility poles, and a rapidly advancing wildfire," Bissen said. "The severe gravity of the impact was not clear in the initial hours, as our firefighters and police on the ground placed all of their efforts and actions towards helping people in the areas.

"As the evening of the first day came, the horrific effects of the wildfire in Lahaina became apparent," he continued before adding: "The realization that we had lost lives was devastating."

wp-image-1263231949 size-full
Maui police officers help pack truckloads of food and supplies. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/Getty

In response to the disaster, Johnson and Winfrey decided to set up a fund dedicated to raising money towards rebuilding efforts which was not well received by fans.

Titled the People's Fund of Maui, both stars stated that they would be kick-starting the donations off with 10 million dollars before asking others to donate to the funds too.

Have a look at the clip below:

"We were so concerned about what was happening in Maui that we were texting back and forth," said Winfrey in a social media video shared by both of them back in August.

Johnson elaborated on the funding details, stating: "Every adult resident who lives in the affected area and was displaced by the wildfires in Lahaina and Kula is eligible to receive $1,200 per month to help them through this period of recovery."

Johnson then emphasized that this is a trust-worthy organization stating: "I know a lot of people out there — as Oprah and I’ve been finding — are just having a hard time trusting where the money goes, what organizations should I send money to, how can I help?"

He continued: "In this case, the fund that we created — with a lot of hard work from a lot of hardworking people who all care about these people of Maui — as Oprah was saying, it is a clean, direct from you, directly to their hands, and right away, with some real immediacy.

"With disasters like this, the number one need is money in hand," Johnson stated before Winfrey doubled down adding: "People being able to have their own agency, being able to make decisions for themselves about what they need and what their family needs, that’s our goal is to get that to the people now."

wp-image-1263231951 size-full
Buildings still smolder days after a wildfire gutted downtown Lahaina in August. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/Getty

However, fans were not too convinced that this was a good idea, with many slamming the pair for not using their "billionaire status" more wisely and funding the project themselves rather than asking ordinary people to contribute amid a cost of living crisis.

In response, Johnson has now addressed the drama.

Taking to Instagram yesterday, the former WWE wrestler emphasized that he understood the backlash.

"When we first launched the fund, there was some backlash... I want to say that I get it, and I completely understand," he said. "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, and 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, seven bucks. I know."

He continued: "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 p**sed off, and I was frustrated. And the last thing you want to hear when you are living from paycheck to paycheck is someone asking you for money, especially when the person asking you for money already has a lot of money.

"So I get it. I understand. I'd never launched a fund before, but I'm a quick study and lesson learned," he added.

Previously, Winfrey also addressed the scandal during an interview with CBS Mornings.

"...The online attacks, lies, conspiracy theories, really 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," she said.

The talk show host also revealed that she was there firsthand to make sure the funds were being used correctly.

"Then I started talking to people and people really wanted their own agency," she continued, noting that Gayle King's son had sent her an article about Dolly Parton, who organized her support fund to aid victims of the 2017 fires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. "I thought, 'Whoa! That’s the idea. Getting the money into the hands, directly into the hands of the people - set up the end structure for that.'"

She added: "I was so excited. I was so excited about it, and then I got up the next morning, and I saw all of this vitriol, and I was, like, 'Whoa, what happened here?'"

Featured Image Credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/WireImage/Getty