Ellen DeGeneres is used to making dreams come true for other people on her eponymous daytime TV show. However, the comedian turned talk show host found herself on the receiving end of someone’s generosity for a change when Ashton Kutcher made a surprise appearance on set. Here’s a look at how the actor ultimately reduced DeGeneres to tears.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show premiered on NBC in the autumn of 2003 and quickly established itself as one of America’s leading chat shows. In fact, in 2017 the series overtook Live with Kelly and Ryan to become the nation’s second most-watched daytime series. And since The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s debut, it has scooped more than 50 Daytime Emmy Awards and over a dozen People’s Choice Awards.
Furthermore, the show has become renowned over the years for making people’s dreams come true. In 2011, for example, it helped to launch the careers of YouTube youngsters Sophia Grace and Rosie after the pair performed in front of millions of viewers. Then, seven years later, DeGeneres did the same for yodelling sensation Mason Ramsey; she also arranged for him to achieve his ambition of playing the Grand Ole Opry concert.
And in 2016 DeGeneres’ appeal to HBO influenced the network to air a special from Quincy Jones, a relatively unknown comedian with terminal cancer; she broke the good news to him on air. Two years later, meanwhile, she persuaded the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to name one of its heart institute’s rooms after guest Jimmy Kimmel’s ill son. In addition, in 2018 DeGeneres told one delighted audience that they’d all be receiving a share of a million dollars.
But DeGeneres is no stranger to being surprised on her own show, either. In 2018, for instance, the star was visited by a whole host of unannounced celebrity guests – including Jamie Foxx, Chance the Rapper and Sofia Vergara – for her 60th birthday special. It was an unexpected present from DeGeneres’ wife Portia de Rossi, though, that truly caught the host off guard.
In a video about DeGeneres’ all-time hero, the late animal conservationist Dian Fossey, de Rossi revealed that she’d arranged for her spouse to become heavily involved in protecting the mountain gorillas of Rwanda. The comedian would help the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund to endure via a new eponymous center that would provide the animals with a permanent home. And that wasn’t all.
You see, de Rossi had also helped to set up a brand new foundation named after her wife. The Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund would allow the star to throw her support behind any animal species she chose. And the gift was appropriate, as DeGeneres has been a proud advocate for animals throughout her career.
Then, a few months later, DeGeneres and de Rossi headed off to Rwanda to help build a new center for endangered and rescued creatures from across the globe. Before the pair left, however, they were given some financial help from a few familiar faces. Firstly, it was announced on DeGeneres’ show that de Rossi’s Arrested Development castmates had donated $50,000 to the cause.
But even that sum paled by comparison to an act of kindness by one of the show’s most regular guests. Ashton Kutcher has racked up nearly a dozen solo appearances since first being invited on set in 2004. He also joined his wife Mila Kunis for a chat with the hugely popular talk show host in 2016.
And in May 2018 Kutcher showed up on set again – much to the surprise of DeGeneres. The comedic actor initially began talking about Ripple, an app in which he’d recently invested that enables users to move their cryptocurrency around much more easily. Yet while DeGeneres was understandably confused at first by the topic of conversation, things soon became clear.
Subsequently, Kutcher went on to explain that the start-up was actively seeking “community warriors” – a term used to describe people wishing to make a positive global impact. And the actor believed he had an ideal example in mind. That individual just happened to be sitting opposite him.
Kutcher said, “I told them that there’s this amazing human being, and all they ever do is think about other people they can give to. Whether it’s in New Orleans, whether it’s in Montecito, whether it’s the people that come here [or] the people out there, you’re always thinking about everyone else. And we wanted to show you that people are thinking about you.”
Kutcher, who at this point had also been joined by his business partner, Guy Oseary, then made a very special announcement. The pair would be giving DeGeneres’ eponymous wildlife fund $4 million via Ripple. And DeGeneres was left visibly overcome with emotion at the news.
“Usually people come out with the big giant check and do the big giant check thing,” Kutcher explained. “But we can actually transfer it into Rwandan francs right now right here, and all we have to do is push this button, and it’s in your account.” An excited DeGeneres replied, “I’d like to push it. I’d like to push it real good.”
Kutcher also talked about how he first found out about DeGeneres’ animal foundation. “I ran into you on the beach. And you told me about this amazing birthday gift that you got from Portia,” he said. “And you explained to me that if you weren’t doing this, that you would be working on that project, right? You would be saving the gorillas.”
Oseary then chipped in to reveal that DeGeneres had previously contacted him to enthuse about the project. He said, “You wanted to share with me this incredible story, this gift of a lifetime that Portia gave you. And I promised you on that call that I’d be there to help you. [Ashton and I] are brothers, and we’re here to help you.”
And DeGeneres couldn’t thank the pair enough following their surprise donation. She told them, “Oh my God – that was the most amazing thing. I love you both so much – you know that.” In an Instagram message posted just before the episode aired, she also confirmed that she had had no prior idea about Kutcher and Oseary’s generous gift.
Still, this wasn’t the first time that Ripple has been involved in a high-profile good deed. In fact, tens of millions of dollars have been given by the company to various non-profit organizations in the first half of 2018 alone. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert also featured Ripple after the firm helped to fund more than 30,000 classroom projects on DonorsChoose – a crowdfunding site geared towards schooling.
Then, just a week after Kutcher’s surprise visit, DeGeneres and de Rossi made the trip to Rwanda. And the chat show host subsequently uploaded numerous photos and videos of her time in the jungle to Instagram – including the moment she had first seen a mountain gorilla up close. In one particular post, DeGeneres wrote, “I can’t begin to describe what this experience was like or how much it means to me. I’m so grateful.”
Meanwhile, a few months after their return, DeGeneres and de Rossi celebrated their tin wedding anniversary. “Ten years ago today. This was such a special day for us,” DeGeneres captioned a throwback photo of their nuptials on Instagram. She also posted another photo that featured the speech from their officiator, philosopher Wayne Dyer, celebrating marriage equality.