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On August 27, after Hurricane Harvey displaced thousands of people in Texas, JJ Watt started a fundraising campaign. His initial goal was $200,000.
When the window for donations closes on Friday, Watt will have raised over 33 million dollars.
Once news of his elevated goals started spreading around social media, bigger donations came in. The Texans donated $1 million. The NFL matched it. Texas grocery store H-E-B, who has featured Watt in commercials previously, added $5 million last week.
It’s important to note that Watt’s contribution was significant, but the outpouring of support for Houston was tremendous. The Red Cross raised over $200 million, and a local fund established by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett accumulated more than $50 million in contributions.
To show their appreciation for Watt, one Texas resident started a petition to name the SH99 the “JJ Watt Parkway.” In two weeks, it’s gathered nearly 100,000 signatures. Watt wears number 99 for the Houston Texans.
Before the season started, Watt took time from his preparation to deliver donated goods to people in shelters. On September 3rd, Watt and volunteers filled ten trucks with donated essentials and distributed them across Houston.
Of course, there’s no point in raising money if you’re not going to spend it. And $30 million is a lot to handle for the J.J. Watt Foundation, which is normally presiding over less than two million dollars. The Houston Press reached out to the foundation for comment, and they replied that no decisions on spending will be made until the final day of fundraising.
When asked about the distribution, Watt did not mince words.
“I take that responsibility extremely seriously,” he told ABC News. “And I’m gonna make sure … that what I do is do right by the people who donated, and by the people who need the help.”
You can donate to Watt’s foundation here.