John Oliver Buys $15 Million in Medical Debt, Helping Over 9000 People

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You probably owe somebody money. You’re an American: you have debt. John Oliver investigated the messed-up debt situation in our fair country on Last Week Tonight last night (US citizens combined are over $12 trillion in debt, which, I mean, geez), specifically targeting the debt-buying industry, where companies buy debt from creditors and then try to collect as zealously (and threateningly) as possible. Basically it’s a bunch of predators shaking down citizens for money they originally owed to somebody else, and although it’s not illegal, it’s definitely in dubious moral territory.

Oliver is fond of symbolic gestures on his show, both large and small, and last night he decided to make the biggest one in TV history (at least when it comes to total dollars). He set up a debt-buying group called Central Asset Recovery Professionals (CARP for short), bought almost $15 million in medical debt from thousands of people, and then basically forgave it all. As Oliver himself points out repeatedly in this video, that’s several million dollars more than Oprah Winfrey’s infamous car giveaway from many years ago. Oliver just gave away more money than any show in TV history, absolving over 9000 people of crushing medical debt and underlining the despicable practices of the debt-buying industry in the process. Pretty good way to wrap up a weekend, there.