John Oliver Buys and Forgives $15 Million In Medical Debt, Making History in the Process

Step aside, Oprah. John Oliver made giveaway history on Sunday, June 5. The Last Week Tonight host relieved 9,000 people of $15 million in medical debt. The move was an attempt to shed light on shady debt collectors who take advantage of customers.

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“American households collectively owe over $12 trillion in debt,” Oliver, 39, informed viewers on Sunday, explaining that while some debts are unavoidable, “debt buyers can end up harassing you.”

To pull off the giveaway, Oliver’s HBO show set up a debt buying company titled Central Asset Recovery Professionals, which they dubbed CARP for short after the bottom feeding fish of the same name. Oliver said it was “disturbingly easy” to create the company.

“Back in April, we spent $50 to incorporate a debt acquisition company online in Mississippi … I became chairman of the board and CARP set up this very bland website … and with little more to go on than that website we were soon offered a portfolio,” explained the comedian and political commentator, who found fame on The Daily Show with John Stewart, revealing they were offered $15 million of medical debt for just $60,000.

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John Oliver
John Oliver Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Instead of collecting the debt, Oliver handed the information over to, a nonprofit that forgives medical debt with no tax consequences.

“F–k you, Oprah,” Oliver jokingly exclaimed at the end of the segment. “I am the new queen of daytime talk.”

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