Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and Oprah Winfrey face backlash for asking fans to donate to Maui fund instead of contributing more themselves

  • In August, wildfires swept through Maui, Hawaii, leading to 115 deaths.

  • Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Oprah Winfrey announced the "People's Fund of Maui" on September 1.

  • Viewers questioned why the wealthy celebrities were asking for donations from ordinary people.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Oprah Winfrey launched a relief fund to help aid local residents who were affected by wildfires that ravaged large sections of Maui, Hawaii, but viewers hit back and asked why the celebrity duo couldn't donate more of their own millions, instead of appealing to people with less money.

In August, deadly wildfires swept through the island, damaging or destroying thousands of structures, leading to the deaths of 115 people, with dozens more still unaccounted for, CNN reported.

As of September 3, the fire in Lahaina had been contained, while the fires in Olinda and Kula were 90% and 95% contained respectively, according to a statement published by the County of Maui.

On August 31, the pair posted a video to their millions of followers on Instagram in which Winfrey could be seen standing beside Johnson as they introduced the "People's Fund of Maui," which they said aimed to help raise money for local residents affected by the tragedy.

In the video, she said the pair had been inspired by Dolly Parton's philanthropy and believed people were skeptical about how to help Maui residents, so they created a fund where people could donate, and the money would go directly to the people who needed it.

A lengthy caption alongside the post stated that every adult resident who was "displaced by the wildfires in Lahaina and Kula" would be "eligible to receive $1200 per month to help them through this period of recovery" and provided a link where those directly impacted could apply for the funds.

"We are honored to start this campaign with $10 million dollars and ask for your help in donating to those who have lost their homes. We thank you in advance for your contribution," the caption went on to read.

The upload received more than 60,000 comments, many of which appeared opposed to the idea of wealthy celebrities appealing to regular working people to provide additional funds.

"Math ain't mathing with this one. You guy's literally have so much money…. You can donate it and make it back within a year," one top comment with over 10,000 likes read.

The same clip was re-shared to Winfrey and Johnson's TikTok accounts and included a donation button where TikTokers could make direct contributions.

Winfrey's upload received 834,000 views and just 11,000 likes — unusually low for a video with this many views — compared to over 53,000 comments, many of which shared a similar sentiment to those on Instagram.

"I support Maui and the cause. But why are you asking us common folk who live paycheck to paycheck. We struggle to put food on table. Who helps us?" one top comment read.

Johnson's upload received 1.4 million views and similar criticism in the comments section.

Multiple users also posted videos reacting to the clip, stressing the duo should be digging deeper into their own pockets or asking their fellow millionaire and celebrity friends to pledge instead of appealing to regular people who may be struggling financially.

Forbes reported Winfrey had a net worth of $2.5 billion and owned at least 13 properties on the Hawaiian islands. Johnson, the world's highest-paid actor, was worth $270 million, the outlet reported.

On September 2, Winfrey posted a follow-up video with another lengthy caption on Instagram, where she thanked the "10,000 people who have personally donated" and said thousands of people who had been affected by the wildfires had signed up for assistance. She added, "We are working as quickly as we can to verify them and get the money delivered."

Neither Winfrey nor Johnson appears to have addressed the controversy, and neither immediately responded to a request for comment from Insider.

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