In Defense of Alyssa Milano's GoFundMe: Famous People Might Not Be as Rich as You Think | Opinions | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

In Defense of Alyssa Milano’s GoFundMe: Famous People Might Not Be as Rich as You Think 

There was a bit of an online freakout in late January when actress Alyssa Milano posted a GoFundMe to social media to raise money for her son’s baseball team for a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown:

A lot of people took exception to the idea that Milano, who starred in the popular TV series Who’s the Boss and Charmed, would ask the public for money, rather than pay for the trip herself. One stat was brandished in many of the reactions: Milano has a net worth of $10 million. 

Now, I do not doubt that Alyssa Milano probably has more money than you or I do.  But that said, we don’t know the entirety of her financial circumstances, or whether she has the liquid cash on hand to suddenly spring for her son’s entire baseball team to travel across the country. We also don’t know the interpersonal dynamics of the entire baseball team; for all we know, most of the parents of kids on the team are richer than she is. 

And another key you should know: CelebrityNetWorth, and its numerous imitators, do NOT supply reliable, believable figures about how much money famous people have. It’s not clear how they even could unless they somehow had access to every famous person’s tax returns or something. 

Interestingly, that site now lists Milano’s net worth at $4 million, down from the widely shared figure of $10 million. The site does, however, detail something else about Milano’s finances: 

In 2017, Milano sued a former business manager who reportedly left her millions of dollars in debt and ruined her credit. She hired the management company in 2006 and terminated the relationship in 2016 “after discovering that although paid handsomely, they did not competently perform any of the duties for which they were engaged or behaved in an honest, forthright and truthful manner,” per the lawsuit.

Furthermore, Milano alleged that the management company allowed the costs of a home renovation to soar to $5 million. After the renovations, the home was worth $3 million. Milano was under the impression her finances were perfectly fine and turned down lucrative acting roles, but in reality, she and her husband were millions of dollars in debt. Her manager reportedly failed to make payments to the IRS in 2013 and 2014, which led to millions of dollars in penalties and unpaid taxes. She further alleged that the manager forged her name to make bad investments in things like a parking lot. In the wake of the financial problems, Milano apparently put her West Hollywood condo up for sale. She and the business manager settled out of court on undisclosed terms in June 2019.

Does this mean she might not be able to fund the trip? Maybe not. But it’s also never quite a safe assumption that all famous people have instant access to unlimited liquid cash. 

All Too Common Story

It’s a common story among famous people, whether it’s actors, musicians, or athletes: Many of those people got stuck in bad financial deals, had large amounts of money stolen from them, or made a lot of money when they were young that didn’t last until they were older. 

In music, especially, if there was a band from your childhood that had one or two hits, and none since, there’s a decent chance that they never made any money at all, and if they did, it probably didn’t last. 

Milano is an actress known for liberal political views, including a lead role in the launch of the #MeToo movement, so there are reasons to think that some of the backlash came from people still unhappy with her overall. 

There are two things that everyone must know: 

  1. Online lists of celebrities’ net worth are very, very unreliable, and 
  2. Just because someone is famous enough for you to know who they are, it doesn’t mean they have access at all times to independent wealth. 
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