On this week's Last Week Tonight, John Oliver became the self-proclaimed "queen of daytime talk." The show claims to have staged the biggest giveaway in the history of television, nearly doubling Oprah's famous $8 million new car giveaway.
In a segment focused on how debt is purchased and collected with little to no regulation or protection for consumers, the show set out to prove how easy it is to start a debt buying company by starting one itself. With that company, they purchased nearly $15 million in debt for $60,000. Instead of collecting the money owed, they released 9,000 people from their past-due medical debt.
Oliver is no stranger to stunts that prove a point, like when he became a televangelist to get un-taxable donations or when he purchased ads for "Jeff the Diseased Lung in a Cowboy Hat" as a new spokesperson for big tobacco. But this week's stunt may have transcended stunt-dom entirely, changing the lives of around 9,000 people.
Before the big reveal, Oliver proclaimed, "Debt buying is a grimy business, and it badly needs more oversight. As it stands, any idiot can get into it. I can prove that to you because I'm an idiot, and we started a debt-buying company. And it was disturbingly easy."
His new company, Central Asset Recovery Professionals, short for “C.A.R.P., after the bottom-feeding fish,” was offered this package of medical debt after starting a bare-bones website following the creation of their company "in Mississippi" (they were able to do it online).