Anyone Ever Watch “Secret Millionaire”?

I came in from mowing my yard Sunday evening, grabbed a beer, sat down, turned on the TV, scrolled through the channels, found “Secret Millionaire,” and decided to give it a try. This particular episode was about Jeff Usner, an “internet millionaire.”

From what I could gather from the show, Jeff was a workaholic. He built a business making money off the internet and then at the request of his friends, he started teaching other people how to make money off the internet. All this is very vague but supposedly what Jeff did made him rich.

His life wasn’t all peachy, though. His wife lost one of their babies. As you can imagine this was a tough experience in Jeff’s life. Then, Jeff suffered a stroke (Jeff was only 37 at the time of the taping). These two events made him realize that he needed to take a break and focus on something bigger than himself.

The point of the show is to take millionaires, take their identity, put them in a different environment and encourage them to find ways that they can help others. In this particular episode, Jeff helped out a woman who helped handicapped kids, a Hispanic man who taught kids how to box, and a woman who provided services for the elderly and food for the poor. Jeff was touched by each of these charities and ended up giving each one thousands of dollars of support ($40,000, $35,000, and $85,000, respectively, if my memory is correct).

There were two things I did not care for about the show:

1. Guilt about being rich. Jeff felt he needed to “give back.” I never really thought much about that phrase until I used it once here on AFM and Jack pointed out that it’s a bad phrase. Unless Jeff was stealing from people or being dishonest, there was no need for him to feel he needed to “give back.” I know, it’s just a phrase. But, it’s the wrong phrase. A more appropriate phrase should be something like, “Share my wealth” or “Help my fellow man.” Maybe I’m splitting hairs but it bugged me.

2. When it got to the point in the show where Jeff had to reveal himself, the dialogue went something like, “There’s something I didn’t share with you. I’m actually a very successful business man. In fact, I’m a millionaire…” The whole speil sounded a bit “braggy” to me. He could have said, “I’ve done well for myself and I want to share some of it with you…” I’m sure ABC had a script for him to follow.

Overall, I thought it was a good show. I do like charity and I do think it’s important to help others. The cool thing about this particular show (it’s the only episode I have seen) was that Jeff helped those who were helping other people. That’s what giving should be about, in my opinion.

4 thoughts on “Anyone Ever Watch “Secret Millionaire”?”

  1. I believe the people shown on the show are used to blindly giving a check to charity. This show lets a person actually do hands on work and lets them decide if the outreach deserves their money. I know, in my giving I am skeptical of writing a check to unknown organizations. I personally do outreach ministry and support others locally who have a history of going beyond the boardroom. I also believe that the people I have seen on this show continue to give and be involved in a hands on way. This is not being guilty about being rich, but truly sharing blessings one has been given. I would also think that the example of “rich people” working along with the “poor, unfortunate” people could help one strive to change their circumstances. If it were me helping, and I saw a person that could fall either way off the fence, I would encourage that person in the positive direction. That could never happen if I stayed behind my desk and just wrote a check.


  2. I think calling it “charitable” is a good way to say it. Really, everyone should be charitable, even the poor. I live in a community where a lot of people truly are poor. It always amazes me how people who are poor tend to help one another even more. I lived in one community where the members of the same faith would reroof each others houses. They would typically do 2 or 3 houses each summer.

  3. What would be the impact on both tax revenue and on charities if the tax deductions for charitable contributions were eliminated?

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