Las Vegas’ “big guys” have donated millions of dollars to the victims of the recent shooting in the city, according to the Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White.
“When bad stuff happens in America in the cities that we love, to people we don’t even know, we are all humans and we dive in and we battle together,” White told CNN Sport’s Don Riddell, after the worst mass shooting in modern US history left 58 people dead and nearly 500 injured.
“Station casinos, my old partners the Fertitta brothers put up a million, Tony Hsieh from Zappos put up a million, Boyd Gaming put up a million, The MGM Grand put up $3 million, and Sheldon Adelson from the Venetian put up $4 million,” added White, with the UFC organization also donating $1 million.
“Now we’re talking some real numbers, now we’re talking some money to really help these people.”
On the night of Sunday, October 1, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock smashed the window of his 32nd floor hotel room at the Mandalay Bay and opened fired on 22,000 country music fans enjoying the Route 91 Harvest Festival below him.
Less than a week later, White opened up the doors of Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena and invited more than 1,500 first responders to UFC 216 — the first major event in the city since the shooting.
Two of the injured first responders and two survivors were recognized in the ring before the pay-per-view event started and the House of Pain singer, Everlast, performed a version of “America the Beautiful.”
‘This is a safe city’
White, who opened the new UFC headquarters in Las Vegas earlier this year, told CNN Sport that he was glued to the television on the night of the tragedy and was instantly moved to pledge $1 million to families of the victims.
“In this city we can take care of our own,” White told CNN Sport’s Don Riddell.
“We don’t need GoFundMe for the whole country to pitch in. If the whole country wants to help Vegas, plan your next trip to Vegas. This is a safe city, it’s as safe as any other city in the world right now, this is going on everywhere.
“We’ve made enough money in this town, the people who live here, off the people who were at that concert that night, the people who come to Vegas every weekend and stay at our hotels and eat at our restaurants and go to the clubs and shopping or whatever it might be or coming to our events.”
The GoFundMe initiative has raised over $10 million.
‘The big guys rallied’
“One million dollars is $1,600 per person,” added White. “You can’t fly home for $1,600 dollars from Vegas, you can’t bury a loved one or $1,600. And the big guys rallied, man. It’s impressive.”
White and all the UFC staff wore #VegasStrong t-shirts throughout UFC 216 on Saturday. They are being sold online and in stores throughout October to raise additional money for victims and their families.
“I think there is a responsibility, not as the UFC, not as fighters, not as role models, as human beings,” said White.
“You have to come together. The first responders, the people that were involved, the UFC, the businessmen in this community that I talked about earlier that donated money and the list goes on and on.
“They couldn’t even handle all the people that came to give blood. It’s about being a human being and helping others. I don’t get choked up much, but I’m going to get choked up here in a minute.
“It’s incredible the way this city responded.”