Ellen DeGeneres shared her birthday surprise with a deserving audience on Friday, gifting them $1 million to share.
During the episode of The Ellen Degeneres Show, the talk show host explained that she partnered with Cheerios to help spread kindness and carry out “one million acts of good.” She announced that the goal had been completed, thanks to all of of the members of her hand-picked audience.
Among those sitting in on the show were Kenya and John Hughes, a couple who used their own money to drive a U-Haul 800 miles to carry supplies to survivors of Hurricane Harvey. She also praised Dan McKernan, who quit this job to open a sanctuary for farm animals and teacher Lori Gaines, who donated her kidney to a mother of one of her students.
DeGeneres wheeled out a giant box of Cheerios as a gift for her audience. She then instructed everyone to check under their seats for their own box of Cheerios, promising that every lucky cereal-holder would get a second, special surprise. Naturally, every member pulled out a box.
“So, all of you got — isn’t that interesting?” DeGeneres joked. “What a coincidence all of you would get a box of Cheerios?”
After continuing to draw out the suspense, the host revealed that every member of the audience would split the million dollars hidden inside the massive cereal box.
“Hold onto your Cheerios because all of you are splitting one million dollars!” DeGeneres said as her audience experienced a mix of emotions, some screaming or crying, while others stood in shock. “That’s a lot of money!”
In her 15 seasons of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the host said, “It’s the biggest gift I’ve ever given anybody ever. And I hope you continue to pay it forward and share all the good.”
While DeGeneres dished out the generous gift on Friday, she was the recipient of a special surprise just one day earlier, on Thursday’s episode of the show.
During her extended birthday celebration, DeGeneres’ wife Portia de Rossi appeared to present the host with a special gift that "had to represent who you are and what you really care about," she said.
"So, for your birthday, Ellen, I am bringing you and your hero, Dian, together by building the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund," de Rossi revealed on Thursday's show. "Ellen, you will carry on Dian's legacy by giving them a permanent home in Rwanda. Now, you will join Dian as a protector and champion of these amazing animals, the mountain gorillas. Happy birthday!"
The actress revealed that she also set up The Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund, allowing DeGeneres to continue supporting animals, as she has also done for endangered elephants.
DeGeneres was brought to tears by the thoughtful gesture, then she took a moment to gush over de Rossi’s thoughtfulness and love: “It’s the best gift. I’ve always said — and when we got married, Portia’s line was, ‘It’s good to be loved; it’s profound to be understood’ — and, she understands me because that is the best gift that anybody could have given me. So, I love you.”