Back in August, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Oprah Winfrey teamed up to launch a fund to aid the people impacted by the Maui fires. Designed to provide a monthly stipend to adults displaced by the wildfires in Lahaina and Kula, The Rock and Oprah chose to crowdfund the humanitarian aid, asking everyday citizens to donate. The pair were swiftly met with backlash, with many people taking to social media to point out that both celebs were incredibly wealthy with exceptional means, while the public is struggling with inflation and the rising cost of living.
On Sunday, the “Jungle Cruise” star hopped on Instagram to address the backlash and to update everyone on the state of the fund today. According to him, he heard the backlash and took it very seriously, acknowledging that he “could have done better.”
“When we first launched the fund, there was some backlash that came with launching the fund, and I want to address that backlash,” he told his 390 million followers halfway through the straight-to-camera video.
“I get it, and I completely understand, and I could have been better. And next time, I will be better.”
He continued, “I understand, you know, 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. I know what that’s like, I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck.”
“Seven bucks,” he then said, referencing the name of his production company, Seven Bucks, which was inspired by the amount of money he had as a 22-year-old when he was cut from The Calgary Stampeders during his time in the CFL.
“When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, I was easily pissed off and I was frustrated. And the last thing you want to hear when you are living paycheck to paycheck is someone asking you for money, especially when the person asking you for money already has a lot of money,” he acknowledged.
USA Today cited Forbes, reporting that The Rock’s net worth is estimated at $270 million and Oprah’s is estimated at $2.5 billion.
The outlet also reported that the first round of applicants are starting to receive the $1,200 stipend.
Still, he continued, “I’ve never launched a fund before. But I’m a quick study, and lesson learned,” he stated.
“I will say that the most important thing about this message is the fact that the families have been getting their money and that they are getting back up on their feet.”
“Why it’s so moving to me and so important to me is that when we’re down, and we rise back up, and we do it together, we’ll become one. And when we become one, we become stronger.”
Earlier in the video, he updated fans on the Maui fund, stating that “The thousands and thousands of survivors, the families, they have now over the past couple of weeks, started to receive their first round of funds.”
Oprah as well addressed the backlash last month, but didn’t come from a place of understanding or acknowledging the validity of the criticism. Speaking to CBS Mornings, she said, “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?’”