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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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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