A month into various shelter-in-place orders around the country and amid rising food insecurity caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Americans are getting creative with charity.
Fanatics founder, CEO, and billionaire Michael Rubin may be socially distanced from his business and social networks, but he's more connected than ever. On Tuesday, Rubin posted a video on Twitter, urging all celebrities, entertainers, sports owners, and athletes to donate to his #AllInChallenge and raise funds for organizations addressing food insecurity in the U.S.
"We wanted, No. 1, to raise as much money as possible for people who need food, and No. 2, to do it in an uplifting way," Rubin told CNBC.
Twenty-four hours and over $2.7 million later, fans can donate for a chance to win a walk-on role in a Leonardi DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, and Martin Scorsese film, or a 1-day contract from Mark Cuban to play with the Mavericks. Rubin himself, partner of the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils, has donated trips to most of the major league sports finals, plus a group trip to the next Super Bowl and a $100k gift card to Fanatics.
Former NY Yankees star Alex Rodriguez is offering a one-on-one batting lesson, lunch, and his two World Series trophies.
"Right off the bat I said, 'I'm in,'" Alex Rodriguez told CNBC of his first phone call about the challenge from Rubin. "I thought the concept was really interesting and we could make a big impact in a short amount of time."
Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez have already committed to donating meals to Feeding America through Wheels Up's "Meals Up" initiative.
Certain donations, like 18 holes at Michael Jordan's private golf course with Bubba Watson, a ride-along with Daytona 500 Champion Denny Hamlin, and the Richard Mille Aviation Watch, are available for auction. 100% of the #AllIn proceeds will be donated to Meals on Wheels, Feeding America, No Kid Hungry, America's Food Fund, and World Central Kitchen, each organization working to support the millions of Americans struggling to remain fed throughout the global health crisis.
Over 50 celebrities have committed to the #AllInChallenge, and Rubin says he's not completely surprised. "I expected everyone to be all in, but how much they're going all in, that's what's really blowing my mind," he told CNBC.
Justin Bieber has committed to flying to a fan's house for a solo performance, which Rubin says was all Bieber's idea. When he called friend Meek Mill about the challenge, Mill offered his Rolls Royce Phantom immediately. "He told me, 'I don't need this car. I need to help feed people," Rubin said.
Celebrities have mobilized their own networks to lift the spirits of Americans sheltered-in-place and to alleviate financial strain brought on by state-mandated shutdowns. Lady Gaga has partnered with the WHO and various other entertainers for a virtual benefit concert this week, and Rihanna and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey have together donated over $4 million to support domestic abuse victims in Los Angeles throughout the city's shutdown.
"It is the responsibility of leaders in sports, entertainment, business to really step up and figure out how to make a big difference," Michael Rubin said on CNBC's Squawk Box Wednesday.
The #AllInChallenge has just begun to build momentum. Donations and bids are open for the next two weeks, and those already involved are encouraging their own networks to jump aboard.
"To think that one person or two people are going to do everything is unrealistic. ...When people come up with good ideas that can scale up, that's going to make a difference," Alex Rodriguez told CNBC.
Michael Rubin has already committed the Fanatics MLB merchandise factory to producing masks and gowns for healthcare workers, and he's optimistic that opportunities for high profile support for hard hit Americans will continue.
"My belief is that the government is doing everything it can be doing," he said. "They're doing the best they can. But what could make a big difference is when you have the private sector and the leaders in sports and entertainment come together, too." Rubin added, "The common theme I'm hearing from everyone is, 'I'm already doing a lot, and I want to do a lot more."