Following the August 2023 wildfires in Maui, actor Jason Momoa accused Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson of "stealing money from the poor" via a fundraising effort intended to benefit the wildfires' victims.
On Sept. 5, 2023, the celebrity gossip YouTube channel named Just In (@JustInCeleb) published a 10-minute video with the title, "Jason Momoa Exposes Oprah & The Rock's EVIL Maui Donation Scam." The video was viewed more than 100,000 times in under 24 hours.
The video's thumbnail image claimed actor Jason Momoa said Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson were "stealing money from the poor" via a fundraising effort they created to benefit victims of wildfires that ravaged parts of Maui in August 2023. The thumbnail also contained a photo of Winfrey and Johnson standing next to each other during an event to announce the fundraising initiative, the People's Fund of Maui, which, as we previously reported, intended to provide $1,200 per month to victims.
The claim wasn't true. The YouTube video was a misinterpretation of an Instagram video Momoa posted on his official account about scammers impersonating him on the platform. That video did not actually mention Winfrey, Johnson, nor their fundraising initiative.
In addition to YouTube, the same clip with the alleged quotes about Winfrey and Johnson circulated on TikTok in three separate videos. The first part received over 700,000 views in under 24 hours on the platform. We also found the YouTube video, or links to it, on social media platforms such as Facebook and X (formerly known as Twitter).
Despite the YouTube video's assertion, there's no evidence of Momoa calling Winfrey and Johnson's donation fund "pure evil," nor of him saying the two were "stealing money from the poor." To the contrary, he has publicly supported the People's Fund of Hawaii and reportedly served as a consultant during the fund's creation.
As we noted above, the YouTube video used an Instagram post by Momoa as "proof" of his alleged comments. That post was real. It was a selfie-style video that was posted on Momoa's account on Aug. 16, 2023, and did not show signs of digital manipulation.
Not only were Winfrey and Johnson not mentioned in the video, the Instagram video by Momoa was posted approximately two weeks before the two stars announced the creation of the fund on Aug. 31, 2023.
Furthermore, reputable news and entertainment publications reported that Momoa supported the People's Fund of Hawaii. Hawaii Civil Beat reported Momoa was part of a group that helped Winfrey and Johnson determine how to best help people impacted by the fires. The Hollywood Reporter reported the same thing, explaining that the initiative was created with the "guidance, insights, and the blessing of community elders, leaders and residents," of which Momoa was one.
In addition, we found multiple posts promoting the fund on Momoa's Instagram account. For example, on Sept. 1, 2023, Momoa's account shared a video originally posted by Johnson with the caption: "FULL SUPPORT I STAND WITH YOU @peoplesfundofmaui".
Just In's YouTube video included a disclaimer in its description box that said the information in the video may not be true:
Disclaimer: Content might be gossip, rumors, exaggerated or indirectly besides the truth. Viewer advised to do own research before forming their opinion. Content might be opinionated.
We've previously fact-checked false gossip rumors by Just In, like the claim that Johnson had admitted to having a "shady role" in the Maui fires.
Beaty, Thalia. "Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne Johnson Launch Fund with $10 Million for Displaced Maui Residents." AP News, 31 Aug. 2023, https://apnews.com/article/maui-wildfires-oprah-dwayne-johnson-donations-0e59c2e1dc06b8519c9b453c978ed1b9.
Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/p/CwB2Dq3MT7a/. Accessed 6 Sept. 2023.
---. https://www.instagram.com/p/CwqDTZrNvdd/. Accessed 6 Sept. 2023.
Liles, Jordan. "Dolly Parton Didn't Ask for Fire Victims' Donations, in Contrast with Oprah and The Rock for Maui?" Snopes, 5 Sept. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/dolly-parton-fire-donations/.
---. "Dolly Parton Didn't Ask for Fire Victims' Donations, in Contrast with Oprah and The Rock for Maui?" Snopes, 5 Sept. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/dolly-parton-fire-donations/.
---. "The Rock Mistakenly Admits 'Shady Role' in Maui Fires with Oprah Winfrey?" Snopes, 5 Sept. 2023, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/the-rock-maui-fires/.
Rahman, Abid. "Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne Johnson Launch Fund to Help Maui Wildfire Victims." The Hollywood Reporter, 31 Aug. 2023, https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/general-news/oprah-winfrey-dwayne-johnson-maui-wildfires-fund-1235578694/.