Watch — Oprah Winfrey Shocked over Maui Fire Donation Backlash: ‘It Made Me Sad’

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 25: Oprah Winfrey speaks onstage as she promotes the upcoming film "The Color Purple" during the Warner Bros. Pictures Studio presentation during CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace on April 25, 2023 in Las …
Ethan Miller/Getty

Oprah Winfrey says she was shocked over the online “vitriol” in reaction to her urging the public to donate money toward the victims of the Maui wildfires.

“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?'” Winfrey said in an interview with CBS Mornings.

“It made me sad that we are at this state in our country.”

Watch Below as Oprah Shares Her Disappointment:

Winfrey also suggested that she faced “an onslaught of being terrorized and vilified online” when she urged the public to give money to help victims of the Maui wildfires.

“All the online, you know, being — attacks, lies, conspiracy theories, really took the focus off of what was the most important thing, and that was the people of Maui,” Winfrey insisted.

The billionaire explained that she and actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson were inspired by country star Dolly Parton, who in 2017 organized a fund to help victims of wildfires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

“We thought — because of both of us have given to charities our whole lives — starting the fund with $10 million would be a great idea, because any of us who have ever been to any benefit, you know, you go to a benefit and somebody gives $10 million, that’s called a good night,” Winfrey said.

“So, we thought, $10 million, we start off the fun, we’ll do what Dolly did, get other people to give money, and then we’ll put it directly into the people’s bank accounts,” she continued. “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?'”

“It made me sad that we are at this state in our country,” Winfrey concluded.

Winfrey and Johnson had started a $10 million fund for the people of Maui, and then urged the public to fund the rest — a move that resulted in the both of them facing backlash, as fans pointed out them jointly donated just $10 million is a tiny fraction of their enormous wealth.

Winfrey has an estimated net worth of $2.8 billion, and Johnson has an estimated net worth of $800 million.

“I would but I’m broke…you two got this though!” one social media user wrote in reaction to Winfrey and Johnson’s request the public donate money.

“Billionaire asking for money from the poor, what a joke,” another commented.

Oprah Winfrey, left, holds hands with Luz Vargas, center, and Estrella Lopez, right, at a distribution and aid site at Honokowai Beach Park on Sunday August 13, 2023 in Honokowai, HI. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“This should be a private message between you and your billionaire mates,” another advised. “It’s so outrageous that you are pleading for money.”

“How is the richest woman in the world asking for money?” another asked. “Make it make sense.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.