John Oliver Gave Away $15 Million to Show Just How Shady the Debt-Buying Industry Is

Here’s how he managed to outdo Oprah.


According to the latest Last Week Tonight, Americans collectively owe more than $12 trillion in debt—a serious problem that has given way to a questionable industry of debt buyers that prey on vulnerable people hoping to relieve their crushing financial situations. Oftentimes, these debt collectors break the law and use practices that show little respect for their consumers. 

To demonstrate just how badly the industry needs additional government oversight, John Oliver created his own debt acquisition company to not only collect, but forgive about $14.9 million dollars in medical debt for roughly 9,000 people in Texas. The feat topped Oprah Winfrey’s former record of the largest one-time giveaway in television history. 

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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