Perhaps my rabbit ears are up just a little too much for this sort of thing. Maybe it’s really none of my business what anyone does with their money. And yet I can’t help it, especially when it says something about the way the rich are covered in this country, not just in sports.
I was watching the U.S. Open last night for a bit, and on the ESPN ticker there was a regular entry about New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson promising $1 million to the Gulf Coast Renewal Fund to help the area recover from the destruction of Hurricane Ida.
And here it is on NFL.com. Here it is on NBCSports.com. Here’s the press release from the Saints on local channel WKRG’s website. You need the Bleacher Report story? I got ya. You can imagine all the other places.
And a million bucks is a lot of money. It is to you and me at least. Most other people, too. And it’s probably a lot to the Gulf Coast Renewal Fund. And it’s an “initial” donation, so there could be more in the future.
Except that the amount of damage the hurricane inflicted is going to make that $1 million look like change in the car ashtray. And none of these articles mention that Benson is worth $3.4 billion. That’s with a “B.” Yeah yeah, I know some financial nerd is going to point out that that’s not liquid. They love to do that. I’m sure she’s got enough liquid lying around. By-the-by, according to Statista the Saints took in over $400 million in revenue in 2019. I think that probably provides a decent amount of liquid.
So what’s my reaction supposed to be here? Impressed that an unfathomably wealthy woman donated an amount she’ll never notice or miss that is something, but hardly enough? Not that Benson could fix everything that will need fixing when the damage can be fully assessed. But I know that $1 million won’t do it either.
But of course, ESPN can’t say that, as they’re in bed with the NFL. Certainly the NFL’s website isn’t going to do anything other than try and show what good people their owners are every rare chance they get, even though we know all 32 would likely punt your dog into a wheat thresher for 10 bucks. So many outlets have some sort of agreement with “The Shield,” or count on them for eyeballs, that you won’t see anything either, not even going hard in on this, but just mentioning what Benson is worth.
I don’t mean to paint Benson as some heartless Scrooge, because she could have donated nothing. But as silly as this sounds, how much more is $1 million for her than nothing? It feels like a token, a half-hearted wave.
$1 million will certainly help. Probably help a lot of people. But Benson has the power and ability to help scores of lives without diminishing her life in the slightest. All owners do. All rich people do. And they don’t. And, in fact, they bend the laws to their wil so they don’t have to do it at all, except when they deign to for the headlines. Hell, they find ways to not even pay full freight on taxes along the way. But whenever they descend from on high and sprinkle down what amounts to pocket lint for them onto the rest of us, we’re supposed to clap like seals. And I’m supposed to go agog because this kind of gesture ends up on my ESPN ticker or trending on Twitter?
Yeah, sorry. You’re going to have to do more than that to get me to salute. McKenzie Scott feels that way at least. Talk to me when you’re on her block.