Oprah Winfrey Admits to Being ‘Shocked’ Over Maui Backlash

Oprah
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – JUNE 30: Oprah Winfrey speaks onstage during the 2023 ESSENCE Festival Of Culture™ at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on June 30, 2023 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images FOR ESSENCE)
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After weeks of enduring backlash about her assistance with the residents of Maui, Oprah Winfrey has finally opened up.

In August, Winfrey joined forces with Dwayne Johnson to set up a fund to help victims of the Maui wildfires. The two both committed $5 million each to jumpstart the People’s Fund of Maui. They stated in a video announcement that the money would be directly distributed to those in need who were affected by the fires in the town of Lahaina.

Fans, unfortunately, were not happy with the pair, however. The backlash comes from fans criticizing their call to have people donate to the fund although both Johnson and Winfrey are very wealthy.

In an interview with CBS Mornings, Winfrey was asked about the backlash she had been receiving.

Oprah Winfrey’s Response To The Backlash

“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,” Oprah Winfrey shared. “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 then began to explain how she was giving out material items like towels, generators and toiletries. In those moments, she was talking to victims who expressed that they would like their own autonomy to retrieve the personal items they need.

“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 said. 

Winfrey went on to share that she felt that it was the best decision because she wanted to give people the money directly in their hands. She also revealed that she would often have many people come up to her to ask where they could send money. These were all reasons why she started the fund and still stands by her decision to do so, regardless of the backlash which she said made her made her, “sad that we’re in this state in our country.”

“I will say that as of today, 2,200 people have been cleared and verified, and those people are gonna get a notice from the People’s Fund of Maui and are gonna have the money put into their account,’ Winfrey concluded.