During Friday night’s biennial Comic Relief Red Nose Day event on the BBC, where comedians and other entertainers come together to help raise money for various charities, Fiona Mactaggart, a lawmaker from the country’s main opposition Labour Party, tweeted to her 2000 or so followers that she would donate £1 ($1.50) to Comic Relief for each retweet.
Mactaggart, 59, then proceeded to watch – no doubt with a bead of sweat forming on her upper lip – as the retweets started to stack up. She might have only been expecting to donate a few hundred pounds, but within a short space of time the retweets were in their thousands.
Luckily for Mactaggart – who later confessed she was “Twitter naive” – she put a 30-minute limit on her offer, though that was still plenty of time for her message to be retweeted 14,268 times (equal to $21,150).
“I knew it would be a lot but it was more than I expected,” Mactaggart told the BBC over the weekend. “I had expected to give around £10,000 but there you go, it was a risk I took.”
She said she hadn’t given much thought to the idea beforehand, and basically decided to do it on the spur of the moment. “I always wanted to do something quirky, because I think that’s what Comic Relief is about,” Mactaggart said.
Her idea had been to use the tweet (and subsequent retweets) to spread the message that Comic Relief was on TV that night, hopefully resulting in more charitable donations.
The enthusiastic retweeting has at least meant that Comic Relief has benefited to the tune of £14,268. “It is a pretty big chunk from my savings but I can afford it,” she said, adding that she has no intention of pulling a similar stunt in the future.
Friday’s event raised over £75 million for a slew of charities.