Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne Johnson's Maui wildfire relief efforts surpass expectations

Media moguls Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, once criticized for soliciting donations for the victims of the devastating Maui wildfires, have given much more than they initially pledged. 

The Entertainment Industry Foundation said the People's Fund of Maui, an initiative started by Winfrey and Johnson to benefit survivors of the wildfires in Maui, has given away almost $60 million. 

That money was dispersed between September and February to some 8,100 adults — a significant portion of the 12,000 people the state of Hawaii estimates were displaced.

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The foundation wouldn't say exactly how much Winfrey and Johnson gave in total, but a list of other contributors indicates the bulk came from them. EIF said more than 20,000 individuals and companies donated to the fund.


Dwayne Johnson and Oprah Winfrey onstage during Oprah's 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus Tour presented by WW (Weight Watchers Reimagined) at State Farm Arena on January 25, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Oprah)

When Winfrey and Johnson first launched the initiative, they committed $10 million and asked others to join them. At the time, the request was met with some criticism, given especially Winfrey's wealth and extensive estate in Maui.

Last August, a series of wildfires broke out in Hawaii, which devastated the historic town of Lahaina on Maui island. 

The fires killed more than 100 people. 

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Many of the factors that contributed to the disaster are already known: A windstorm battering the island had downed power lines and blown off parts of rooftops, and debris blocked roads throughout Lahaina.

Hawaiian Electric has acknowledged that one of its power lines fell and caused a fire in Lahaina early on Aug. 8, but the utility company denies that the morning fire caused the flames that burned through the town later that day.

Roughly 3,000 properties were destroyed when the fire overtook Lahaina, causing more than $5.5 billion in estimated damage, according to state officials.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.