More

Watch John Oliver forgive nearly $15 million in debt with the push of a button.

It's not quite Oprah yelling 'You get a car! You get a car!' It's better.

Watch John Oliver forgive nearly $15 million in debt with the push of a button.

Just by pressing a button, John Oliver made the largest one-time giveaway in TV history — nearly $15 million.

All GIFs from "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver."


The money went to nearly 9,000 individuals, and while they won't be receiving a check or a fancy car, their lives will be getting so much easier thanks to Oliver and his team at "Last Week Tonight."

During his segment on debt buyers and collectors, Oliver focused on a specific kind of delinquency: medical bills.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2012 nearly 1 in 6 families in the U.S. has struggled paying their outstanding medical bills; 1 in 10 families weren't able to pay bills at all.

That's billions of dollars worth of debt from millions of people.

The fact that medical bills are a typically unexpected expense makes that particular form of debt ripe for a very opportunistic and surprisingly unregulated industry: debt collectors.

Here's how debt buyers and collectors work.

It starts with a debt. One of the examples Oliver used was the case of a man who was hospitalized for four days with respiratory issues, later finding out that his insurance wouldn't cover the cost. This left him with $80,000 worth of debt he had no way of paying.

If the debt goes unpaid, the hospital might sell the rights to collect on it to a third party (a debt buyer), and then they can go about trying to collect it.

The problem here is that there's very little documentation that goes along with the sold debt, making it hard to prove who owns it and whether or not it's been paid off. While there is a statute of limitations on debt collection, debt buyers bank on the fact that the average consumer doesn't know that and will continue to try to collect — some with less than friendly tactics.

Basically, it's a big, stressful, anxiety-inducing mess for the person at the center of it all.

To prove just how easy it is to get into the debt-buying business, "Last Week Tonight" started their own collection agency.

After paying $50 to start their own agency, with Oliver listed as the chairman of the board, the "Last Week Tonight" team was offered the opportunity to buy nearly $15 million in medical debt from a group in Texas. The price? A little less than $60,000.

In exchange, Oliver was given a spreadsheet with thousands of names, phone numbers, social security numbers, and debt amounts. If they wanted to, the "Last Week Tonight" agency could have set about trying to collect on the nearly $15 million.

But they didn't.

Oprah's famous car giveaway was valued at around $7 million. Oliver nearly doubled that.

And unlike Oprah's car giveaway, there won't be any adverse tax consequences for the people whose debt has just been forgiven.

So. Freakin. Cool. Right?

You can learn more about credit buyers by watching the video from "Last Week Tonight," posted below.

Courtesy of FIELDTRIP
True

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse communities due largely in part to social factors such as inadequate access to housing, income, dietary options, education and employment — all of which have been shown to affect people's physical health.

Recognizing that inequity, Harlem-based chef JJ Johnson sought out to help his community maximize its health during the pandemic — one grain at a time.

Johnson manages FIELDTRIP, a health-focused restaurant that strives to bring people together through the celebration of rice, a grain found in cuisines of countless cultures.

"It was very important for me to show the world that places like Harlem want access to more health-conscious foods," Johnson said. "The people who live in Harlem should have the option to eat fresh, locally farmed and delicious food that other communities have access to."

Lack of education and access to those healthy food options is a primary driver of why 31% of adults in Harlem are struggling with obesity — the highest rate of any neighborhood in New York City and 7% higher than the average adult obesity rate across the five boroughs.

Obesity increases risk for heart disease or diabetes, which in turn leaves Harlem's residents — who are 76% Black or LatinX — at heightened risk for complications with COVID-19.

Keep Reading Show less

When you picture a ballerina, you may not picture someone who looks like Lizzy Howell. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't.

Howell is busting stereotypes and challenging people's ideas of what a dancer should look like just by being herself and doing her thing in her own body. The now-19-year-old from Delaware has been dancing since she was five and has performed in venues around the world, including Eurovision 2019. She has won scholarships and trains up to four hours a day to perfect her skills in various styles of dance.

Jordan Matter Photography shared a documentary video about Howell on Facebook—part of his "Unstoppable" series—that has inspired thousands. In it, we get to see Howell's impressive moves and clear love of the art form. Howell shares parts of her life story, including the loss of her mother in a car accident when she was little and how she was raised by a supportive aunt who helped her pursue her dance ambitions. She also explained how she's had to deal with hate comments and bullying from people who judge her based on her appearance.

"I don't think it's right for people to judge off of one thing," Howell says in the video. And she's right—her size is just one thing.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

The subject of late-term abortions has been brought up repeatedly during this election season, with President Trump making the outrageous claim that Democrats are in favor of executing babies.

This message grossly misrepresents what late-term abortion actually is, as well as what pro-choice advocates are actually "in favor of." No one is in favor of someone having a specific medical procedure—that would require being involved in someone's individual medical care—but rather they are in favor of keeping the government out of decisions about specific medical procedures.

Pete Buttigieg, who has become a media surrogate for the Biden campaign—and quite an effective one at that—addressed this issue in a Fox News town hall when he was on the campaign trail himself. When Chris Wallace asked him directly about late-term abortions, Buttigieg answered Wallace's questions is the best way possible.

"Do you believe, at any point in pregnancy, whether it's at six weeks or eight weeks or 24 weeks or whenever, that there should be any limit on a woman's right to have an abortion?" Wallace asked.

Keep Reading Show less

Eight months into the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are feeling the weight of it growing heavier and heavier. We miss normal life. We miss our friends. We miss travel. We miss not having to mentally measure six feet everywhere we go.

Maybe that's what was on Edmund O'Leary's mind when he tweeted on Friday. Or maybe he had some personal issues or challenges he was dealing with. After all, it's not like people didn't struggle pre-COVID. Now, we just have the added stress of a pandemic on top of our normal mental and emotional upheavals.

Whatever it was, Edmund decided to reach out to Twitter and share what he was feeling.

"I am not ok," he wrote. "Feeling rock bottom. Please take a few seconds to say hello if you see this tweet. Thank you."

O'Leary didn't have a huge Twitter following, but somehow his tweet started getting around quickly. Response after response started flowing in from all over the world, even from some famous folks. Thousands of people seemed to resonate with Edmund's sweet and honest call for help and rallied to send him support and good cheer.

Keep Reading Show less