Russell Wilson and his charity, the Why Not You Foundation, have been accused of fraud.
According to a six-month investigation done by USA Today, the quarterback’s organization has raised millions of dollars, but offered out only 39.6 cents of every dollar on charitable causes.
In contrast, Wilson’s foundation spent $1.1 million on salaries and employee benefits, including a $200,000 salary for an executive who works closely with the star quarterback and his wife, Ciara.
The startling investigation prompted experts to inquire into the foundation’s “excess benefit transactions, private inurement, and the organization’s free-for-all governance structure.”
“Form 990 federal tax returns from the nonprofit’s inception through 2021 show it reported $7.5 million in revenue and $7 million in expenses during its first eight years of existence,” USA Today’s report reads. “Less than half of the money — $2.8 million, or 39.6 cents of every dollar spent — has gone to charitable activities, all as grants to other nonprofits. The remaining $4.2 million has paid for fundraising, administrative and management expenses, including the salaries of three employees, who have received $1.9 million combined.”
Catching wind of the bombshell report, the Why Not You Foundation responded to the investigation by releasing a lengthy statement.
WNF expressed more than $13 million in benefits were used in “education, pediatric cancer research, and hunger prevention” while highlighting the Why Not You Academy, which began its operations during the onset of COVID-19.
Before concluding their statement, the foundation stated that Ciara and Russell Wilson have both been “compassionate visitors to our patients and families in the hospital.”
“Our mission at the Why Not You Foundation is to empower change in the world, one individual at a time, one child at a time,” the press release concludes. “Our focus will continue to be dedicated to education, children’s health, and fighting poverty while empowering today’s youth to lead with a ‘Why Not You’ attitude.”
Wilson’s foundation was first founded in 2014. The nonprofit was celebrated by the NFL in 2020 when Russ won the prestigious Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award — an award “presented for excellence on and off the field, with an emphasis on community service and philanthropy.”