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George Clooney once gave 14 of his friends $1 million each in cash—here’s why

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46th AFI Life Achievement Award Recipient George Clooney attends American Film Institute's 46th Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute to George Clooney at Dolby Theatre on June 7, 2018.
Alberto E. Rodriguez | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

George Clooney credits his closest friends with helping him get where he is today. And in 2013, he decided to pay them back for all they've done — literally. 

Back then, the perpetual bachelor had just met his future wife, Amal, and didn't have any kids. At the time, he didn't expect to start a family anytime soon. But, "what I do have are these guys who've all, over a period of 35 years, helped me in one way or another," Clooney recently explained to GQ

"I've slept on their couches when I was broke. They loaned me money when I was broke. They helped me when I needed help over the years. And I've helped them over the years."

Clooney's movie "Gravity" had just become a hit, which brought an unexpected windfall for the actor. "Because they didn't want to pay us, they gave us percentages of the movie, 'cause they thought it was gonna be a flop, and that ended up being a very good deal," he said.

Clooney decided to pay it forward to his friends. He purchased 14 Tumi suitcases and filled each one with $1 million in cash. He told his friends to mark their calendars for a dinner party at his place, and when they arrived, he presented them with the suitcases, Rande Gerber, Clooney's longtime friend and business partner told MSNBC in 2017

I just held up a map and I just pointed to all the places I got to go in the world and all the things I've gotten to see because of them. And I said, 'How do you repay people like that?'
George Clooney

"I just held up a map and I just pointed to all the places I got to go in the world and all the things I've gotten to see because of them. And I said, 'How do you repay people like that?' And I said, 'Oh, well: How about a million bucks?'" Clooney tells GQ.

The generous gift "pretty much sums up who George is," Gerber said.

"I know we've all been through some hard times, some of you are still going through it," Gerber recalled Clooney saying at the time. "You don't have to worry about your kids; you don't have to worry about school; you don't have to worry about paying your mortgage.'" 

Clooney certainly has the funds to be so generous. In addition to acting and directing, he sold Casamigos, the tequila company he started with Gerber and another friend, to the multinational beverage company Diageo for as much as $1 billion in 2017.

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George Clooney just sold his tequila business for up to $1 billion