Oprah Winfrey has responded to criticism over the fund she and Dwayne Johnson launched to help Maui wildfire victims, per Daily Mail.
Last month, Winfrey and Johnson launched the People's Fund of Maui to directly distribute money to those affected by the Maui wildfires. They each donated $5 million and called on their fans and followers to chip in to the fund.
Winfrey said she was surprised to see the swift backlash the pair received for asking people to donate to the fund.
"A billionaire and a millionaire asking YOU to donate YOUR money?" one critic previously said.
"Girl you got some nerve asking us working-class people who can barely afford to put food on the table for our families to donate…why don’t you ask your millionaire/billionaire buddies to help," another chimed in.
During an appearance on CBS Mornings on Tuesday (September 12), Winfrey explained Dolly Parton's efforts to aid victims of the 2017 Gatlinburg, Tennessee fires inspired her and Johnson to start the fund for Maui wildfire victims.
"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. We'll do what Dolly did, get other people to give money, and then we'll put it directly into people's bank accounts," Winfrey 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?'"
"This is what I want to say. I want to say that, in the beginning, so many people were calling, asking, "Where do we give our money to?" So I thought, I'm going to give people a place to give it," she added.
Winfrey noted that over 2,000 people have been "cleared and verified" to receive money from the People's Fund of Maui. She said backlash over the fund made her "sad that we're in this state in our country."
"So all of the online attacks, lies, conspiracy theories, really took the focus off of what was the most important thing, which is the people of Maui," Winfrey said.