WALKING THE WALK

The Game on Why He Donated $500K to Flint: ‘Talk Is Cheap’

The platinum-selling rapper donated half a million dollars to provide water to Flint, Michigan. He discusses why he opened his wallet and pseudo-philanthropic celebs.

01.27.16 7:43 AM ET

The Game took some time out from his busy schedule of beefing with Young Thug, posting thirst traps, and releasing a line of emojis for a very good cause: donating $500,000 towards providing water to the people of Flint, Michigan. And yes, we have the receipts.

On Tuesday, the Compton rapper posted a picture to his Instagram account of a wire transfer from his charity, the Robin Hood Project, to Avita for half a million bucks. Avita, an artesian alkaline water company, is matching The Game’s $500,000 for a grand total of $1,000,000. It’s the biggest public celebrity donation so far to Flint, which is in the throes of a federal emergency after it came to light that its water supply contained high levels of lead, poisoning its people. Experts estimate that roughly 8,000 to 9,000 children under the age of six may have suffered permanent brain damage after being exposed to the tainted water. And that’s just the kids.

“It’s obviously a very big deal and a tragedy in Flint, and I saw people donating small amounts, and I just thought I’d go above and beyond that,” says The Game. “So I donated the funds from the first 11 shows of my European tour. Avita matched it and they’ll be one million bottles of water given out—33,000 bottles of water at a time because of trucking and shipping it in and out. It’s not easy shipping it out because of the snowstorms, and trucks being backed up. But we’ll get it there, however long it takes.”

The Game isn’t the only celebrity who’s come onboard to help. Pop diva Cher got the ball rolling, donating 180,000 bottles of water; Mark Wahlberg and Diddy’s AQUAhydrate, joined by Eminem and Wiz Khalifa, pledged one million bottles; Meek Mill donated $50,000; and Madonna and Jimmy Fallon forked over $10,000 apiece.

In his Instagram post, The Game also called out celebs like Madonna and Fallon for donating only $10,000, which he felt was insufficient given their immense wealth.

“I called ‘em out and then I didn’t call ‘em out,” he says. “The only reason I mentioned Madonna and Fallon is I follow Madonna on Twitter and saw it on my feed, and I saw, ‘Ten-thousand dollars.’ Madonna? Come on, man. She’s paid it forward her whole life though, adopting kids and donating money. But specifically to the water crisis in Flint, we can do better than $10,000. It takes about nine bottles per person per day to bathe and drink, so $10,000 contributes, but they could’ve done a lot more.”

He adds, “What Meek did was very generous, and that’s great. But what I want celebrities to do is to stop saying, ‘I pledge water.’ There are people who get up every morning and say they pledge allegiance to the flag, but don’t really honor it. Talk is cheap. So I posted a picture of my wire transfer and I’ll post pictures of the water going into Flint every day until it’s done—not to brag, but to speak to the people who actually want to fix the problem.”

Unlike some of these other celebrities, The Game has a personal connection to the embattled City of Flint. 

“My sister lives in Flint with my nieces and nephews and her husband, and so it directly affected me,” he says. “I’ve got friends who are still stuck there, too. I’ve been on tour in Europe for weeks and weeks, and I wanted to do something. I try to do the best I can from wherever I am.”

While the Documentary 2 emcee fills up gossip columns with his various skirmishes and hip-hop beefs, one thing that’s often overlooked is his philanthropy. Through his Robin Hood Project, The Game has donated millions to the less fortunate.

“You know, the thing is man, when I first became a rapper I always said to myself that any amount of money that I acquire past getting me an apartment, a decent car, and the Internet I’d pay it forward,” says The Game.

“Once I accumulated a large amount of finances, I just started giving back randomly. At first I would do it to different places because I didn’t have a charity, then one day I came up with the Robin Hood Project because Robin Hood was my favorite cartoon back in the day—he’d rob from the rich and give to the poor. So I started giving money out of my own pockets. It wasn’t a tax write-off thing. It’s about helping your fellow people and doing the right thing, man.”