December 22, 2011; Source: The Gothamist | Just ten days after Louis C. K. released his new stand-up comedy special “Live at the Beacon Theater” to download online for just $5, the comedian had already raked in over $1 million in profits. Louis C. K. did what we hope other celebrities and affluent individuals will follow: he announced his precise intentions with respect to what he will be doing with his earnings, on his website:

I’ve never had a million dollars all of a sudden. And since we’re all sharing this experience and since it’s really your money, I wanted to let you know what I’m doing with it. People are paying attention to what’s going on with this thing. So I guess I want to set an example of what you can do if you all of a sudden have a million dollars that people just gave to you directly because you told jokes.

Louis’s transparency about his profit distribution is appreciated, and what he does with the profits is even more admirable. The first $250,000 will pay for special costs to produce the comedy special and for Louis’s website. The second $250,000 will go to his staff as a “big fat bonus.” But the third $280,000 was given directly to several charities, which Louis chose based on their having reached out to him on Twitter, yet another example of social media benefiting nonprofits. (He kept the remaining $220,000 for his family.) The following five organizations reached out to Louis C. K. and share the $280,000 in donations:

Louis C. K. also went on Jimmy Fallon’s show on December 23, 2011, and comically explained some of the charities he supports: Green Chimneys (“kids that nobody likes, they go to this place, and they work with animals”) and Charity Water (“They build water things when people are thirsty”).


Instead of paying a large network or company to produce his newest stand-up, Louis decided to make the video more affordable and accessible to the public online, and in doing so proved that he could still make a profit. NPQ hopes more people are as creative and transparent about their money spending and philanthropy. As Louis explains:

I never viewed money as being ‘my money,’ I always saw it as ‘The money.’ It’s a resource. If it pools up around me then it needs to be flushed back out into the system. 

The thing is still on sale. I hope folks keep buying it. If I make another million, I’ll give more of it away. I’ll let you know when that happens because I like you getting to know what happened to your 5 dollars and bringing awareness to the bla bla bla.

—Aine Creedon