The Wildest Stories Of Celebrity Generosity

Celebrities do things on a bigger scale; it's just a part of being rich and famous. Whether they're spending small fortunes on a party or a home, it's always momentous. On the other side of the coin, some of your favorite notables do for others just as much as they do for themselves. When you have it all, you gotta give some of it back, right?

Philanthropy and celebrity seems to go hand in hand, with names like Elton John, whose charity, the Elton John Aids Foundation, "gave $25 million toward targeting rising HIV cases in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (per Reuters) and Chance the Rapper, who raised $2.2 million for Chicago Public Schools' arts programs through his SocialWorks charity (via Rolling Stone), as just a few stars whose hearts are as big as their wallets.

It's always nice to see the brightest stars doing the kindest things — it just makes them shine a little bit brighter. Let's take a look at some more wild stories of celebrity generosity.

Drake's bountiful video budget

For the filming of Drake's "God's Plan" video, Champagne Papi gave out the entire video's budget of $996,631.90 to those in need around Miami, telling viewers "don't tell the label." According to NPR, some of these acts were — but not limited to — "giving away stacks of cash," picking up the tab for grocery shoppers at a local market, and "surprising a family" with a new set of wheels.

CNBC praised the video for "[turning] on its head the stereotype of rappers taking over Miami to drink and party." Although the idea of giving money away for a music video isn't a new idea (Blink-182 famously gave away the group's $500,000 video budget for "The Rock Show"), it doesn't quite tug at your heartstrings like Drizzy's display. Looking at the tears streaming down Drake's face midway through the video, he knows it, too. The song, from Drake's Scary Hours EP, went on to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart and hold a position somewhere on it for a whopping 36 weeks, so it may be OK to tell the label now.

Oprah's ultimate Australia altruism

Oprah Winfrey surprised guests on the first show of the 25th and final season of The Oprah Winfrey Show with an all-expenses-paid trip to Australia in one of her most generous moves to date. Although many may think Oprah's kindest moment was when she gave the audiences new cars, that ended up being a tax nightmare — but her heart was in the right place. In a story on Oprah.com, the talk show queen says, "I've heard Australia is the ultimate adventure. It's one of the places I've always wanted to visit, and who better to take with me on this trip of a lifetime than some of my most loyal viewers?"

Sponsored by Tourism Australia, Winfrey dubbed the trip "Oprah's Ultimate Australian Adventure" and taped four episodes down under. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Winfrey "flew out 302 guests and 199 productions crew on 88 different flights to and within Australia, as well as 18 tons of equipment flown on from Chicago." On top of the logistical expenses, Winfrey "handed out over $1.25 million in gifts to needy recipients," as well as "diamond and pearl necklaces to the 12,000 audience members." In total, Winfrey's production company "and its commercial partners have spent $7 million on the tour." THR also mentions that her visit generated an estimated $83 million in ads — and that was before the episodes in Australia even aired. "It is immeasurable what a four-hour love festival for your country broadcast in 145 countries can do," Winfrey said.

Anderson Cooper pays to protect the pooches

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper made a donation to Spikes K-9 Fund, a non-profit organization that raises funds to buy equipment for police and military K-9 units run by retired Navy SEAL Jimmy Hatch. This came after Cooper heard about the slaying of Krijger, a four-year-old Belgian Malinois that was a part of the Norfolk Police Department's K-9 Unit in Virginia, who was shot in the line of duty while protecting "his handler." According to The Daily News, "The dog may have survived the shooting had he been wearing a ballistic vest." That's where Cooper comes in.

Although the Spikes K-9 Fund never said exactly how much Cooper contributed, it was "a sum of money large enough to buy ballistic vests for every police dog in Norfolk, Virginia" according to Washingtonian. To put that in perspective, each doggy bulletproof vest costs around $2,200, and Krijger's K-9 unit alone had 17 dogs in it. Washingtonian also reported that Copper donated the speaking fee he collected for an appearance in Norfolk, which, according to Speaking.com, reportedly starts at about $75,000. 

Keanu Reeves' endless kindness

The kindness of Keanu Reeves is something that truly cannot be measured. Although the stories of Reeves' good deeds run far and wide, almost folklore-esque if you will, there is one that stands out. It was revealed that The Matrix star runs a private charitable foundation that aims to help sick kids by donating funds to cancer research and children's hospitals. Insider reports (via Ladies Home Journal) that Reeves is quite content with staying in the background when it comes to his philanthropy. "I don't like to attach my name to it, I just let the foundation do what it does," Reeves states. Just like Neo, Reeves likes to do his work from the shadows.

But the press does occasionally get wind of Reeves' displays of generosity, including the time the action star bought the stuntmen of The Matrix Reloaded Harley-Davidson motorcycles and, of course, that time he gave up his seat on a crowded New York City train ride to a lady with a large bag. The latter, of course, cost him nothing, but probably had the biggest unintentional reward in the form of viral praise

Gordon Ramsey's generous donation

Gordon Ramsey made a name for himself by telling people off in the kitchen on shows like Kitchen Nightmares and Hell's Kitchen; he's essentially the Simon Cowell of the culinary world. But, would you think someone so prone to getting angry (usually with good reason) could have such a big heart?

The culinary master and TV personality donated $50,000 towards the treatment of former MasterChef Junior contestant Ben Jenkins, who suffered from angiomatoid fibrous histiocytoma, a rare form of cancer. In a tear-jerker of a message posted on YouTube, he told Jenkins "If you can beat me in the MasterChef Junior kitchen, trust me, you can beat this."

Unfortunately, the story doesn't have a happy ending. Variety confirmed that Jenkins lost his battle with cancer at only 14 years old. Members of his family told the publication, "We take solace in that his suffering is finally over and in that, in the end, Ben knew he was loved by so many."

The Rock's heart is a big as his biceps (and bank account)

After TODAY reported that a 4-month old puppy named Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was tortured and abandoned with a wire in his mouth, a GoFundMe was started for the poor pooch. Another social boost made the doggo's famous namesake aware of the situation, leading to a $1,500 donation by the REAL Dwayne Johnson, who had to put his french bulldog, Brutus, to sleep after he ate a poisonous mushroom. The People's Champ left a message with the donation, "Stay strong lil' Rock! Let's get you taken care of, healed up and feeling better for Christmas. Plus you have a VERY cool name to uphold;). Got your back."

If that doesn't show just how big The Great One's heart is, he surprised his longtime stunt double and cousin, Tanoai Reed, with a suped-up set of wheels, which he posted on Instagram, captioning, "SURPRISE! I love handing over keys. I love you brother and enjoy your new truck!" Reed was clearly so choked up he could barely speak, but he was definitely grateful. And this wasn't Johnson's first time playing Santa Claus with car keys. According to GQ, he's also given a Lamborghini Gallardo and a Honda Civic to two different cousins, as well as a "flashy Cadillac Escalade" for his dad. "It's a little sickness that I have," Johnson told Jimmy Kimmel (via GQ), "Where I really enjoy buying cars and giving cars to people...I'm a big, brown, bald, tattooed Oprah." 

George Clooney's friendship pays big

It literally pays to be George Clooney's friend. Gorgeous George revealed he gave $1 million to each of his 14 closest friends, a group he lovingly refers to as "The Boys" in an interview with GQ. He explains how his friends supported him throughout his career, whether it was loaning him some cash or letting him crash on their couches. "We're all good friends. And I thought, you know, without them I don't have any of this," Clooney says.

Rande Gerber, one of the aforementioned "Boys" and former co-owner of Casamigos tequila with Clooney, recalls the event quite well. According to E!Gerber told MSNBC that the Gravity star summoned them to dinner, where there was a suitcase by each of their spots at the table. He remembers Clooney saying, "I know we've all been through some hard times, some of you are still going through it. You don't have to worry about your kids, you don't have to worry about, you know, school, you don't have to worry about paying your mortgage." Clooney also pre-paid the taxes on the cash, which was doled out in twenty dollar bills, so his buddies didn't have to worry about the IRS, either.

To acquire the $14 million, Clooney tapped into his inner Danny Ocean, using an old florist van to transport the cash away from what GQ described as "an undisclosed location" where "they have giant pallets of cash." With friends like Clooney, who needs a bank? 

Tyler Perry's charity causes traffic

Did you know that you could have a heart so big it holds up traffic? Well, Tyler Perry definitely found out the hard way! The acclaimed actor and director announced a Thanksgiving-themed giveaway via the Tyler Perry Studios Twitter account, dubbing it #TPSGiving. BET reported that the Hollywood visionary used his Atlanta studio "for four hours to feed 5,000 families with Thanksgiving meals and gift cards from the local supermarket chain Kroger." The good deed ended up causing a long line of cars outside the studio — a line that started at 8am the day before. Fox 5 Atlanta reporter Emile Ikeda even captured the seemingly endless line via video and posted it on Twitter

Fox News reported that this isn't the first time Perry's exhibited extreme generosity. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Emmy-winner also "left $21,000 in tips" at a restaurant he clearly REALLY likes, paid for the groceries of "high-risk shoppers." And long before all of that, Perry "paid off more than $400,000 worth of layaways at a local Walmart." In a December 2018 video posted to Twitter, Perry revealed his Christmas miracle after he tried to keep it a secret, but was outed by the press. "I know it's hard times and people are struggling," he said, adding, "I'm just really grateful to be able to be in a position to do this." Thankfully, this didn't draw a crowd because no one likes a crowded Walmart. 

Dolly Parton's philanthropy could help end a pandemic

Not many people are going to be able to look back and say they were the difference-maker when it came to developing a vaccine for a world-altering disease. Iconic singer-songwriter Dolly Parton is now one of those people. The "Jolene" songstress donated $1 million to coronavirus research at Vanderbilt University through her Dolly Parton Research Fund. Why there? According to the Los Angeles Times, it was "in honor" of Parton's "longtime friend, Dr. Naji N. Abumrad a surgical professor at the Nashville college." What she didn't know was part of her donation was used to fund Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine. In an interview with TODAY she said, "When I donated the money to the COVID fund I just wanted it to do good, and evidently, it is." 

In a story published in the The Washington Post, Dr. Abumrad said, "Without a doubt in my mind, her funding made the research toward the vaccine go 10 times faster than it would be without it." Parton downplayed this claim — and showed just how down to earth she is —  in an interview with BBC One's The One Show stating, "I'm sure many millions of dollars by many people went into that, but I just felt so proud to have been part of that little seed money that hopefully will grow into something great and help to heal this world." With acts like these, she'll always be America's Sweetheart

Ariana Grande's love letter to Manchester

Ariana Grande teamed with record exec Scooter Braun, promoter Simon Moran, and Melvin Benn in putting together "One Love Manchester," a benefit concert and TV special that aired on BBC. The idea came into fruition following a suicide bombing attack after Grande's concert in London's Manchester Arena killed 22 people and left dozens more injured. In an interview with GMA, Grande revealed the bombing was so traumatizing, she didn't want to perform ever again. The singer, who has well-known anxiety issues and suffers from PTSD following the tragedy, said her fans and the city of Manchester's unity and fearlessness gave her the strength to carry on. She said, "I just never seen anything like it and I was like, 'You know, that's not the reaction to have; to just recoil and go away.'"

According to the AP, Grande shared the stage with Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, the late Mac Miller, and more for the event which raised over $13 million. "I want to thank you so much for coming together and being strong," the "7 Rings" singer told the crowd of 50,000 (via TIME), adding, "I love you guys so much, and I think the kind of love and unity you're displaying is the medicine the world needs right now." It's nice to see how Ariana's fans changed her life — the same way her music changes theirs.