Czech millionaire goes undercover as part of new reality show, volunteers at Romani boxing club, then surprises them with a donation
The commercial Prima television channel in the Czech Republic has launched a new reality show based on a formula that has found millions of viewers elsewhere in the world. In "The Millionaire Among Us", seven millionaires agree to enter social situations that are far removed from their everyday lives from one day to the next and to spend a week there.
Under assumed identities, the milionaires find themselves on the outskirts of society, not just in problematic localities, but also visiting organizations that concentrate on aiding the needy in seven Czech towns. Thanks to the project associated with the show, the public will also be able to get involved in providing such assistance.
During their week-long missions, the millionaires will hear hard stories from people's lives, encountering not just drudgery and suffering, but also people's unreal determination to live and enjoy life despite the adversity of fate. The first Czech millionaire to leave his firm for a week was the owner of the country's biggest amusement park, Jiří Antoš.
"None of this is staged. We spared the millionaires nothing. They had to work things out during that week and live through them. I wanted them to be as close as possible to those to whom they were providing their volunteer assistance. For example, as the consequence of a severe car accident, Mr Antoš has difficulties walking, but he participated nonetheless in a charity race as the assistant to a wheelchair user. Although he was absolutely drained by the end, he never admitted it," director Markéta Ekrt Válková said of the unique project.
"None of the people whom the millionaires get to know and to whom they provide assistance knows about their wealth. At the end of their mission, they distribute hundreds of thousands of crowns," reads a press release from Prima describing the plot of the show.
In the first episode, Antoš went to Ostrava to work as a volunteer in the Mens Sana nonprofit organization, where he got to know the family of a man who suffered a workplace injury resulting in brain damage for life. He also got involved in activities in the Bedřiška neighborhood and volunteered at the Boxing King Klub, which is a Romani-run club full of talented boxers that Antoš said was his most intense experience.
"I attended a tournament of a Romani youth boxing team and the staff negotiated my becoming an auxiliary trainer. I have never been an absolute fan of boxing, but I love the film "Glory Road", which is about a brilliant Texas basketball coach who wants to win but doesn't have a chance of finding good players among white students, so he finds Black ones and they defeat everybody. This is something similar. These guys don't have anything to do with boxing, but they've put together a team and they defeat experienced boxers. Originally I wanted to distribute my donation over three years, but in the end I paid the whole amount to them now so they can get a new gym and new boxing ring. I didn't want them to get that ring from anybody but me," he told the daily Deník.cz.
Antoš, in addition to owning the Mirákulum amusement park, which is visited annually by 300 000 people, is also the owner of a joinery company that specializes in manufacturing playground equipment made from acacia wood. He sells the equipment on a large scale and installs it both abroad and in the Czech Republic.
"I believed my involvement in providing this assistance was going to be somehow staged for television, but it was all real! I'm glad because I had many profound experiences during the week," Antoš told the daily.
The second episode will introduce Karel Janeček, a billionaire entrepreneur and mathematician who co-owns the RSJ firm, which makes billions of crowns annually on global stock markets. He is also a successful anti-corruption fighter, investor, visionary and one of the greatest philanthropists.
Janeček will be shown aiding people as a volunteer in Plzeň. He will live in a residential hotel and will have to get by on an amount of money corresponding to the legally-established minimum for subsistence for the entire week.
The billionaire will be providing assistance to homeless people, people living with physical disabilities, and socially disadvantaged children. "At first I told myself that a week would be too long of a time, that I can't give that kind of time, but then it began to gnaw at me. I realized I can communicate something by doing this, I took it as my personal responsibility, although I suspected I would have to do God ony knows what and not all of it might amuse me. It was a challenge!" he told Prima TV.
The other millionaires to be featured in the next episodes will be Simona Kijonková, Václav Staněk, Lenka Hlavatá, Petra Plemlová and Martin Hausenblas. Viewers of the program will also be encouraged to donate to the nonprofit organizations visited.
Prima has joined forces with the charity crowdfunding platform Znesnáze21, where each nonprofit organization will have a collection established. Donors will be able to contribute through that public collection to the specific stories for which they feel the closest connection.
In addition to offering clear instructions and a user-friendly environment, the platform also offers a high degree of certainty. Donors can be sure they are contributing to individuals and organizations who actually need their help.
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