Sixers co-owner Michael G. Rubin just challenged superstars and pro athletes across the U.S. to kick off a major new fundraising effort in the pandemic fight. So far, Philly’s Kevin Hart, Meek Mill, Ben Simmons, Jeffrey Lurie and Julie and Zach Ertz have stepped up to join the “All-In Challenge.”
If you’re not familiar, Rubin is kind of a big deal. The 48-year-old business mogul is the owner of Fanatics, the world’s largest online seller of licensed sports merchandise.
He also holds a minority ownership stake in both the 76ers and New Jersey Devils, and is worth an estimated $2.9 billion, according to Forbes magazine.
Sixers fans may remember him for picking up Meek at prison in 2018 and escorting the famed rapper to the Wells Fargo Center that same day to ceremonially “ring the bell” before a NBA Playoffs game.
The Bryn Mawr resident’s “All-In Challenge” is a first-of-its-kind movement that seeks to raise tens of millions of dollars — literally, tens of millions of dollars — to feed those in need during the COVID-19 crisis. That may sound ambitious, until you realize this is the campaign actually asking rich people to pony up. Rubin has a vast network of celebrity friends.
“Together what we want to do is literally build the largest movement with all the best entertainers, celebrities, athletes, business titans coming together to make a real impact on this issue,” Rubin said in a Twitter video. “It’s just brutal, it’s so hard to watch everyone suffering. That has motivated me and some of my closest friends to say, ‘How do we really do something about this?'”
Then, he challenged every celebrity and every athlete and every sports league and every artist and every sports owner in the country to go “all-in,” saying everyone can do their part.
Here are the rules:
- Participants must donate a prized possession or a once-in-a-lifetime fan experience that money can’t buy. (For example, local comedian Kevin Hart donated a chance to be in his next movie).
- These experiences will be auctioned off and people can enter for a chance to win them for as little as $10.
- All of the money raised will go to fight COVID-19 in a variety of meaningful and impactful ways.
Rubin’s first direct challenge named Meek Mill, Hart, Simmons, Joel Embiid, Magic Johnson and Alex Rodriguez. He also called on TikTok stars Charli and Dixie to join.
People stepped up quickly. The movement was immediately embraced by celebrities all over the country, including Justin Bieber, Peyton Manning, Tony Hawk, Robin Thicke, Mark Cuban and many more. The “All-In Challenge” (click here to donate) had raised almost $1.9 million as of Tuesday evening.
Philadelphia residents and celebrities going ‘All-In’ for COVID-19
Considering Michael G. Rubin’s ties to Philadelphia, it should come as no surprise that local athletes and celebrities were quick to jump on board. Four of the first seven people he challenged call the 215 home. Here are the hometown heroes participating and what they are donating (running tally).
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie announced that the team would be offering a chance to design and call your own play at an Eagles preseason game. He referenced the Philly Special in his video and added that the winner would be invited to come to training camp and teach the play to Eagles coaches. Then, in the ultimate power move, he challenged Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to join the movement (no response yet).
Zach and Julie Ertz
Eagles tight end Zach Ertz and USWNT midfielder Julie Johnson-Ertz have donated a double date with them for dinner and courtside seats at a Sixers game. The All-Star couple challenged fellow Philly natives Mike Trout and M. Night Shyamalan, along with actor Ashton Kutcher.
Sixers point guard Ben Simmons said he was offering a complete NBA experience where one fan and nine of his/her friends would tour the Wells Fargo Center with Simmons, then sit courtside for a game. After, they would play in a 5-on-5 pick-up contest where Simmons would coach one squad and another Sixers player would coach the other one.
Local comedian Kevin Hart revealed that he was giving away a “movie star experience” and clarified that meant a speaking role for the winner in Hart’s next movie. That included luxury items like a trailer, an assistant, car service — the “full sha-bang.”
Local rapper Meek Mill announced he was donating his “biggest” and most “favorite” car: Rolls Royce Phantom. (The price tag on that car starts at $450,000 and has 563 horsepower). Then, he challenged LeBron James, James Harden and Floyd Mayweather.
Tracking previous donations and good deeds
Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper hasn’t chimed in about the “All-In Challenge” but he already pledged $500,000 to help those in immediate need from the novel coronavirus through a partnership with Philabundance and two Las Vegas-based charities (Direct Relief and Three Square).
Sixers center Joel Embiid — a guy personally challenged by Michael G. Rubin in the “All-In Challenge” — recently contributed $500,000 to Penn Medicine to help with COVID-19 antibody testing. It was part of a combined $1.3 million donation by the Sixers’ organization.
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie had previously donated $1 million to Penn Medicine to support front-line health care workers and help with diagnostic testing and hopefully develop a potential vaccine.
Sixers point guard Ben Simmons had already established his own project called “The Philly Pledge” that was asking all Philly-area athletes and celebrities to donate to two non-profit organizations: Philabundance and PHL COVID-10 Response. They had raised more than $350,000 as of early April.
Sixers forward Al Horford — the former Celtic in his first season in Philly — pledged $500,000 to local unnamed charities. The 13-year NBA veteran actually donated $500,000 to each city he has played in during his career, with Atlanta and Boston getting in on the charity action.
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz’s AO1 Foundation started his “Love From The Crumb” initiative which allocated $100,000 through his charitable food truck called Thy Kingdom Crumb. The money is meant to combat hunger in those communities most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.