If it were actually possible to snap your fingers and swap lives with any other human being, Hollywood megastar George Clooney would probably be among a lot of people’s top choices with which to do it.
The 59-year-old actor, director, and producer has won two Oscars, been nominated for Academy Awards in six different categories (a record), has dated a plethora of beautiful women, he’s handsome, athletic, owns his own island, was freaking Batman, and has a gazillion dollars.
In fact, Clooney has SO much money that it was once reported that he gave 14 of his closest friends $1 million in $20 bills each.
The story was revealed by Clooney’s best friend and business partner Rande Gerber (who is married to Cindy Crawford so he also wouldn’t be bad to switch lives with) in 2017.
“Every one of us — 14 of us — got a million dollars,” Gerber explained. “Every single one of us. We’re in shock. Like, what is this? He goes, ‘I know we’ve all been through some hard times, some of you are still going through it. You don’t have to worry about your kids, you don’t have to worry about, you know, school, you don’t have to worry about paying your mortgage.’”
Gerber continued, “One was working at a bar in Texas at the airport, trying just to support his family. Rides a bicycle to work every day. I mean these are guys that took care of George and now he’s giving it all back. And George said, ‘Not only that, I have paid everyone’s taxes so this million dollars is yours.’”
This week, in a lengthy interview published Tuesday by GQ naming Clooney their 2020 Icon of the Year, he personally explained (and confirmed for the first time that it happened) why he made such a dramatic and extremely generous gesture for his friends.
“Amal and I had just met, but we weren’t dating at all,” he says. “I was a single guy. All of us were aging. I was 52 or something. And most of my friends are older than me.” This was 2013. Gravity was just about to come out, “and because they didn’t want to pay us, they gave us percentages of the movie, ’cause they thought it was gonna be a flop, and that ended up being a very good deal.” So he had some money — though not, interestingly, as much as he has now; Clooney’s biggest financial windfall, from the $1 billion sale of Casamigos, the tequila company he started with Gerber and another friend, wouldn’t come for four more years. But in 2013, he didn’t yet have a family, nor any real idea or hope that someday he would. “And I thought, what I do have are these guys who’ve all, over a period of 35 years, helped me in one way or another. I’ve slept on their couches when I was broke. They loaned me money when I was broke. They helped me when I needed help over the years. And I’ve helped them over the years. We’re all good friends. And I thought, you know, without them I don’t have any of this. And we’re all really close, and I just thought basically if I get hit by a bus, they’re all in the will. So why the f**k am I waiting to get hit by a bus?”
The next step was how do you lay hands on $14 million in cash? And Clooney did some research, and what he found was that in downtown Los Angeles, in an undisclosed location, there is a place you can go, “and they have giant pallets of cash.” So Clooney got an old beat-up van that said “Florist” on it, like he was in a heist movie, and he drove downtown, and he got in an elevator with the florist’s van, and he took the van down to the vault and loaded it up with cash. He told no one but his assistant “and a couple of security guys that were sh*tting themselves. And we brought it up, and I bought 14 Tumi bags, and then I packed in a million bucks, cash, which isn’t as much as you think it is, weight-wise, into these Tumi bags.”
The next day he had all his friends come over. “And I just held up a map and I just pointed to all the places I got to go in the world and all the things I’ve gotten to see because of them. And I said, ‘How do you repay people like that?’ And I said, ‘Oh, well: How about a million bucks?’ And the fun part about it was: That was the 27th, the 28th of September. A year later, on the 27th of September, just by happenstance, was the day I got married.”
Clooney also said after he gave away that $14 million-plus to his pals, “I remember talking to one really rich a**hole who I ran into in a hotel in Vegas — certainly a lot richer than I am. And I remember the story about the cash had come out, and he was like, ‘Why would you do that?’ And I was like, ‘Why wouldn’t you do that, you schmuck?'”
Yep, trading lives with George Clooney most certainly would not suck.