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Almost $3 million in donations later, the man who raised money with a beer sign has ended his campaign

Courtesy John Recker

It all started with a man holding up a sign for beer money on TV. Now that he’s raised almost $3 million in donations for a children’s hospital, the fundraiser is ending.

The University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital thanked Carson King on Tuesday for the impromptu fundraiser that turned into millions. The hospital confirmed the funds reached $2.95 million in a statement sent to CNN.

“The funds will help us provide the best care possible for our patients,” said Suresh Gunasekaran, CEO, University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, and associate vice president, University of Iowa Health Care.

“We are grateful to be part of such a spontaneous, remarkable occurrence that brought together so many people. One simple act of kindness sparked a nationwide cause behind which we could all unite — helping children heal,” he said.

King disabled his Venmo account on Tuesday evening, he told CNN. Some donation amounts were as little as 5 cents, and as high as thousands of dollars over the course of the fundraiser, he said.

Dubbed the “Iowa Legend,” King shot to internet fame on September 14 when he held up a sign on ESPN’s “College GameDay” asking for beer money. The sign had his Venmo account information on the bottom.

The 24-year-old was overwhelmed by the donations that poured into his Venmo account, and he announced he would donate the money to the children’s hospital. Later, Busch Beer, Venmo and other companies matched the donations.

Controversy rocked the beer sign fundraiser last week when old racist tweets King had made years earlier were resurfaced on Tuesday. Anheuser-Busch cut ties with King on Wednesday.

The story took another turn when Twitter users discovered that the Des Moines Register reporter who found King’s tweets had also, years earlier, made offensive tweets of his own. The reporter is no longer with the paper.

The controversy didn’t stop people from continuing to donate. The fundraiser went from $1.5 million on last Wednesday to $2.95 million on Tuesday, doubling in size, King said.

“There’s just lots of great people out there. It’s humbling,” Carson said on Tuesday night. “They know it’s for the great cause of a children’s hospital. It almost leaves you speechless.”

While the hospital said the money will go toward helping pediatric patients, it said Carson has not directed exactly how the funds will be used. It is typical for donors to designate a use for large donations to hospitals themselves. Carson said he will be meeting with the hospital to talk about the potential uses for the money.

As for King, he has big dreams of helping other causes in the future, but he’d like to get back to a more normal version of life, he said.

“I’d like to start a foundation eventually and keep doing this for different hospitals and groups in Iowa and in the Midwest,” King said. “First I need to wrap this up and get back to a normal routine, get back to work and have a normal day and go from there.”

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