After six days of Twitter silence, a large and mysterious donation from eccentric billionaire Stewart Rahr has brought 19 celebrities who had died a “digital death” to raise money for charity back to life.
Starting December 1 on World AIDS Day, some of the most prolific celebrity tweeters agreed to die a “digital death.” They were supposed to abstain from Twitter and Facebook updates until the charity organization Keep a Child Alive raised $1,000,000 to combat HIV/AIDS in Africa and India.
But by 5:00 p.m. on December 6, the amount of money donated by fans had only totaled about $420,000. Yet, less than half an hour later, the “dead” celebrities had mysteriously come back to life.
Ryan Seacrest credited the celebrities’ resurrection to “Stewie Rah Rah,” a nickname of Stewart Rahr, a New York City billionaire who made his fortune from pharmaceuticals and who is known for his Snooki-esque tan and large philanthropic donations. Rahr gave $500,000 to Keep a Child Alive on Monday night, though the charity hasn’t explained where the remaining $80,000 needed to hit the million dollar mark came from. The organization did not respond to a request for comment.
The campaign obviously wasn’t a strict one: the digital deaths hadn’t kept participating stars from reaching out to their followers from beyond the grave.
Lady Gaga had tweeted four times since her initial announcement that she died, reminding her more than 7 million followers that she was “still dead.” Alicia Keys, co-founder of Keep a Child Alive, tweeted 10 times. Justin Timberlake tweeted almost as much in the week after his digital death as he did in the whole month of November. Jennifer Hudson tweeted double the amount of her November tweets in the week she was “dead.” Ryan Seacrest tweeted twice (he’d “love to chat but he’s dead”), as did Kim Kardashian. Granted, these were all reminders to donate, but the celebrities had still broken their Twitter silence.
Singer Usher Raymond seemed to have totally forgotten about the campaign. His tweets from the grave didn’t have anything to do whatsoever with donating money to Keep a Child Alive: “Twit fam, I’m whack for being late, I need your help. Twit,Happy Birthday Rico Love!!! He is the man that wrote you ‘There goes my baby,’” he wrote on December 5. He also gave a “shoutout” to Atlanta, and another to “lil homie Prince JB in London” on December 6.
Several of the other 19 participating “celebrities” seemed to be missing in action. Daphne Guinness, a model and heiress with only 1,140 followers, never even bothered to announce her digital death, never linked to her donation page, and hadn’t even tweeted since November.