“Next time I will be better,” Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson said as he addressed the backlash over his Maui wildfire fund.
In August, the actor and wrestling star partnered with Oprah Winfrey to launch the “People’s Fund of Maui.” The pair kicked off the fundraising campaign with a combined $10 million donation.
But they faced sharp criticism from fans after asking the public to donate money to the fundraiser as well, despite having a combined net worth of nearly $3 billion.
In a video posted on Instagram Saturday, Oct. 7, The Rock said he “understood” the criticism from fans — some of whom told him on social media that they are living “paycheck-to-paycheck.”
“When we first launched the fund, there was some backlash,” he acknowledged. “I get it and I completely understand, and I could have been better. And next time I will be better.”
The Black Adam star said he realizes not everyone can afford to donate money.
“I understand money ain’t falling out of the sky and it’s not growing on trees, and there’s a lot of people out there who are living from paycheck-to-paycheck,” he said.
“I’ve lived paycheck-to-paycheck,” he continued. “I was easily pissed off and I was frustrated, and the last thing you want to hear when you are living paycheck-to-paycheck is someone asking you for money, especially when the person asking you for money already has a lot of money.”
He added, “Lesson learned.”
[Watch the video below]
Despite the criticism, the Hollywood star said a lot of good has come from the campaign.
“Thousands and thousands of survivors have started to receive their first round of funds,” he stated.
Winfrey responded to the backlash last month. During a Sept. 12 interview on CBS Mornings, the media mogul said it made her “sad.”
“All of the online slander, attacks, lies, conspiracy theories really took the focus off of what was the important thing, and that was the people Maui,” she said.
Winfrey owns an estate in Maui and lives there part time. Johnson is of Samoan descent and spent part of his childhood in Hawaii. The two announced they were starting the campaign to help people affected by the wildfires on Aug. 31.
The official press release said Maui residents who were displaced by the deadly wildfires in Lahaina and Kula can receive $1,200 each month to help them get back on their feet.
The wildfires claimed over 115 lives, according to Maui police. Hawaii Gov. Josh Green recently said about 6,000 people were displaced.