This Pirates of the Caribbean Actor is Giving His Fortune to Charity

Chow Yun Fat labored as a young child to help support his family, found fame as a martial arts actor, and recently announced that he is donating his entire $714 million fortune to charity.

Jan 23, 2019
Chow Yun-Fat and wife Jasmine at the World Premiere of

Chow Yun-Fat and wife Jasmine at the World Premiere of "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" Benefitting the Make A Wish Foundation. (s_bukley /

Known to western audiences for his roles in Pirates of the Caribbean and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, actor Chow was born into a traditional farming village, in a house with no electricity, on Lamma Island, Hong Kong. His mother worked several jobs cleaning, selling tea, and farming, and his father worked on a Shell Oil tanker.

Growing up on Lamma Island, he worked from dawn to dusk every day, and when his family moved to Kowloon, he quit school and continued to work a series of odd jobs to help put food on the table.

Chow’s fate turned around when he applied to an actor-training program that he found in a newspaper, and signed a three-year contract with a local television station.

Chow has now been a star in the movie industry for over four decades. Now, at the age of 63, the Chinese actor and his wife have decided to donate their entire fortune, approximately $714 million, to charity.

In 2015, Chow joined Forbe’s list of the highest paid actors in the world.

"This money isn't something you possess forever. When you're gone one day, you have to leave it to others to use it," he said in an interview with South Korea's Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation last month.

Chow leads a very humble life, reportedly spending the equivalent of about $100 a month. He prefers taking public transportation, eating simple food, and spends his free time hiking, jogging, and doing charity work. His wife explains that he only got rid of his beloved Nokia flip-phone two years ago when it died.

Dozens of other billionaire business figures have joined the “Giving Pledge” which was started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to encourage the world’s wealthiest individuals to give back.

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Hilla Benzaken is a dedicated optimist. Her happy place involves cooking, acting, gardening, and fighting for social justice. She writes about all things sustainability, innovation, and DIY.