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“They really hurt me:” Bahamian restaurant owner screwed over by Fyre Festival gets a huge GoFundMe

So far $160,000 have poured into Maryann Rolle's coffers through GoFundMe.

by Emma Ockerman
Jan 22 2019, 4:35pm

In the weeks leading up Fyre Festival, the failed bacchanal for rich millennials in April 2017, organizers were frantic and running low on supplies. They sought help from local Bahamians, and wound up driving one woman $50,000 into debt as she scrambled to cater 1,000 meals a day to organizers and stranded festival-goers.

The woman, Maryann Rolle, an owner at the Exuma Point Resort, drew sympathy when she was interviewed in Netflix’s Fyre documentary and shared her story, saying Fyre’s failed operation was essentially taken “under my wings.”

"I went through about $50,000 of my savings that I could have had for a rainy day," she said. "They just wiped it out and never looked back."

Now, donors including the creator of Jerry Media, an executive producer of the Netflix doc and a former Fyre promoter, have poured more than $160,000 into Rolle’s coffers through a viral GoFundMe campaign.

Rolle estimates that she’s owed at least $140,000, she told CBS MoneyWatch, and she said she has the receipts to prove it.

“Personally I don’t like to talk about the Fyre Festival. Just take it away and start a new beginning because they really, really, really hurt me," Rolle said in the documentary. To pay her staffers, Rolle exhausted her life savings.

Ja Rule, co-organizer of the ill-fated festival, apologized to Rolle via Instagram, although it’s unclear whether he’s donated to the GoFundMe campaign meant to benefit her and her family. The rapper also said in Twitter this weekend that he, too, was a victim of Fyre’s misdeeds, writing he was “hustled, scammed, bamboozled, hood-winked, lead astray!!!”

“MaryAnne Rolle we’ve never met but I’m devastated that something that was meant to be amazing, turn out to be such a disaster and hurt so many ppl... SORRY to anyone who has been negatively effected (sic) by the festival,” the rapper wrote in an Instagram post.

The director of the Netflix documentary, Chris Smith, told BuzzFeed News that there are plans to set up another GoFundMe page for Bahamian workers affected by the festival’s failures as workers toiled on the Bahamian island of Exuma.

"I have been working with a local there, but it’s been hard to find the right person to administer the funds,” Smith told BuzzFeed.

In May, shortly after the festival was supposed to get started, Bahamian officials had to shut down Fyre’s site since its chief organizer and founder, Billy McFarland, hadn’t paid duty taxes to Bahamas Customs on the items he had brought in. Many of the vendors involved were never paid. In October, McFarland was sentenced to six years in prison for multiple counts of fraud.

“It’s hard to believe and embarrassing to admit that I was not paid…I was left in a big hole! My life was changed forever, and my credit was ruined by Fyre Fest,” Rolle wrote in her GoFundMe post.

The "Fyre" Netflix documentary was produced, in part, by VICE Studios.

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