The Betty White Challenge started on social media. And it encouraged fans of the late Betty White to donate $5 to their favorite animal welfare group on or before Jan. 17, White’s 100th birthday. The late actress and comedienne was famously a big animal lover who gave freely to animal charities during her life.
Now the Los Angeles Zoo has counted up its donations thanks to the challenge. And it says it the total really blew everyone away. The zoo took in $94,297 ($70,389 on White’s birthday alone) from more than 2,000 fans who were participating in the viral challenge.
“We are blown away by the number of donations we received yesterday as part of the #BettyWhiteChallenge,” Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association President Tom Jacobson said in a press release, per People. “Betty would be so thrilled to see the outpouring of support in her honor. We know so many worthy animal and wildlife organizations were greatly impacted by yesterday’s challenge. And we know Betty is smiling.”
Betty White Challenge Inspired Donors Big and Small
The donations poured in from 11 countries. They came from 49 states plus Washington, D.C. As Jacobson pointed out, many local animal shelters and rescues also benefited from the challenge.
Some parties donated more than just $5 to the zoo. The Walt Disney Company, for example, gave $25,000 in White’s honor. Pink’s Hot Dogs gave $3,000. Madame Tussaud’s Hollywood held a Betty White event on Monday and donated the proceeds to the zoo.
White’s executive personal assistant, Kiersten Mikelas, told People that White would have loved the challenge. And while White didn’t live to see fans rain donations down upon her favorite causes, she would have approved.
“She would be so touched to see and hear that people were honoring her by donating to local groups who work so hard to rescue and rehabilitate animals,” Mikelas said. “I can’t think of a better tribute.”
Moreover, White’s agent and longstanding friend Jeff Witjas told People that White was not just an animal lover in theory. She practiced what she preached.
“The outpouring of love, the amazing amount of donations being given to all types of animal organizations is such a tribute to how Betty lived her life,” he said. “As Betty would say, ‘Thank you from the bottom of my heart.'”
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Zoo says it’s eager to put the money to good use in a way that White would have approved of. And the Betty White Challenge has left them with plenty to spend.
“Betty is a true champion of animals in both life and death, and we look forward to honoring her legacy at the Los Angeles Zoo,” Jacobson said.