No good deed goes unscrutinized.
Amazon.com Inc. founder and CEO Jeff Bezos took to Instagram on Sunday, pledging to donate $1 million Australian dollars (or about $690,000 U.S.) to support the victims of the Australian wildfires that have killed at least 27 people, torched more than 2,000 homes and burned an area larger than the state of Indiana since last September.
“Our hearts go out to all Australians as they cope with these devastating bushfires,” he wrote. He also shared a link to an Amazon blog post in his bio that further detailed the company’s plan to aid in the relief efforts, such as donating products to organizations on the front lines of fighting the fires.
But while Bezos’ Instagram
post has drawn more than 92,000 likes, the comments devolved into a debate over whether Amazon’s
$690,000 donation is disproportionate to the company’s $936 billion market cap, or Bezos’ estimated $117.4 billion net worth, according to Forbes. In Forbes’ list of America’s Top Givers of 2018, Bezos ranked 23rd out of 50. Indeed, Business Insider calculated that Bezos would earn the $690,000 that Amazon is donating in less than five minutes.
Now many online critics are questioning the generosity of the gesture. “Put 2 more zeros on the end and it’s still piss poor,” tweeted one user under the name Morgan Gilmore, who also called Bezos “cheap” while dropping a couple of expletives.
“Agree anything helps. However, when your [sic] the world’s richest person and you only donate .000059% of your worth, it’s [what] makes you cheap,” wrote one commentator under the Bezos post. “It’s more of PR move in his part. Celebrities with far less money donated more.”
Indeed, metal band Metallica, which Forbes estimates is worth $68.5 million, has pledged $750,000.
Kylie Jenner (the youngest self-made billionaire on Forbes’ list) is donating $1 million (yes, U.S. dollars) to relief efforts in Australia — although she was also slammed on social media for posting another photo wearing Louis Vuitton mink fur slippers, when a billion animals are believed to have been killed in southern Australia as a result of the fires.
Elton John and Chris Hemsworth (who was born in Melbourne) have each donated $1 million to fight the Australian wildfires. “Thor” star Hemsworth has also added links to his bio for his followers to support the firefighters, organizations and charities responding to the fires.
And Instagram model Kaylen Ward told Buzzfeed that she’s raised more $1 million — almost twice Amazon’s donation — by offering to send a nude photo to anyone who showed her proof that they had donated to one of a list of organizations working in Australia. It should be noted that the woman who’s been dubbed “the naked philanthropist” has based her estimate on how many legitimate donation receipts are being sent per minute that meet the $10 requirement; Buzzfeed was unable to verify the $1 million figure. But some of the individual donations have been for $1,000 to $5,000, she said.
Reps for Amazon and Bezos did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Of course, the cash is just one part of Amazon’s relief efforts in the region. Amazon will be donating products to organizations on the front lines of fighting the fires, such as BlazeAid, including water, food, safety clothing and building materials.
Amazon Web Services will also provide technical support for the government agencies dealing with the response and recovery efforts. Read more here.
The total economic cost of the Australian brushfires is expected to exceed the record $4.4 billion Australian dollars (about $3.04 billion USD) set by the Black Saturday blazes in 2008, Reuters reported, which torched 450,000 hectares of land.