John Oliver's show buys $15 million in medical debt and forgives it: "We'd be staging the largest one-time giveaway in television show history"

"Last Week Tonight" exposes how easy and cheap it is to subvert the debt-buying industry

Published June 6, 2016 1:40PM (EDT)

"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver last night devoted his main segment to debt buyers.

"Clearly if you have debts, you should pay them if you can," Oliver said. "But, many people can find themselves in debt through no direct fault of their own."

"The fact that so many people have money trouble is not really surprising," he continued. "What may surprise you is the extent to which seriously delinquent debts have now given birth to an entire debt-buying industry."

Oliver explained that the largest debt-buying company, Encore Capital Group, owns debts of an estimated 1 in 5 U.S. consumers.

"That means, statistically, one member of Evanescence owes or has owed Encore money," he said. "And I think we all know who that would be. It would be guitarist and backing vocalist Troy McLawhorn."

"Nearly 9,000 people" may be surprised to learn that John Oliver and his show purchased for "less than sixty grand" almost $15 million in other people's medical debt -- and forgave it.

"Because, on one hand, it's obviously the right thing to do," Oliver explained. "But, much more importantly, we'd be staging the largest one-time giveaway in television show history."

Watch the full segment below:

By Brendan Gauthier

Brendan Gauthier is a freelance writer.

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Debt-buying Evanescence John Oliver