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Celebs raise millions in crowdfunding to help Harvey relief

Athletes like football star JJ Watt and CEOs like Houston native Michael Dell are using online fundraising to help Texas rebuild after Hurricane Harvey.

New England Patriots v Houston Texans

The Houston Texans' JJ Watt has raised more than $14 million for Hurricane Harvey relief.  

Bob Levey / Getty Images

Football star JJ Watt is known as a crowd pleaser, and now he's directing that popularity to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.

The Houston Texans All-Pro took to Twitter last week as Houston began to flood to tell his nearly four million followers he created a page on the crowdfunding site, YouCaring.com, initially to raise $200,000 after he donated half the amount. 

By Wednesday, he'd raised $6 million. As of Friday, more than 140,000 donors have donated more than $14 million.

"It's crazy," Watt told The Wall Street Journal after reaching $10 million mark Thursday. "It's an unbelievable testament to the good of people. But now it's a big task, trying to make sure this money goes directly to the people." Watt didn't respond to a request for comment.

At least 39 people have died after the hurricane dumped more than 50 inches of rain, displacing thousands of residents along the Gulf Coast. The costs of rebuilding are expected to reach into the billions, and potentially higher than the $151 billion price tag from Hurricane Katrina after it struck the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts more than a decade ago.

Watt's not alone trying to help send money. Other celebrities and executives are going online to help raise funds for Harvey relief efforts.

Dell CEO and Houston native Michael Dell tweeted Thursday that he and his wife, Susan, will be donating $36 million dollars as part of their foundation's Rebuild Texas fund. The effort launched on Friday with the goal to raise $100 million for long-term recovery projects in southeastern Texas.  

"A Texas sized disaster deserves a Texas sized response," Dell said.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday that users on the social network have raised more than $10 million for those affected by the hurricane. The amount also includes the $1 million Facebook said it would match in donations.

Comedian Kevin Hart also started a crowdfunding campaign, after pledging $25,000 to the American Red Cross on Monday. So far, he's raised more than $1.3 million.

The cast of the sci-fi TV show, "Supernatural" has also created a crowdfunding effort, with co-star Jensen Ackles, a Texas native, donating $50,000. They've raised more than $350,000 so far.

Thank you... https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/team/texas-flood-relief/familybusinessbeercompany

A post shared by Jensen Ackles (@jensenackles) on

Aside from crowdfunding, celebrities have been pledging funds as well. The White House said Thursday that President Donald Trump would be donating $1 million of his personal funds to help with relief efforts.

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