Make us your home page
America's Worst Charities

'Breaking Bad' fundraiser funnels cash to one of America's worst charities

Skyler and Walter White, played by Anna Gunn and Bryan Cranston, survey a mountain of cash in a storage locker on an episode in the fifth season of "Breaking Bad."


Skyler and Walter White, played by Anna Gunn and Bryan Cranston, survey a mountain of cash in a storage locker on an episode in the fifth season of "Breaking Bad."

EDITOR'S NOTE: "America's Worst Charities" is the result of a yearlong collaboration between the Tampa Bay Times and the California-based Center for Investigative Reporting, the nation's largest and longest serving nonprofit newsroom dedicated to watchdog journalism. CNN joined the partnership in March. Read more about the project at and on

Breaking Bad addicts just lost their chance to save Walter White from lung cancer.

For years AMC ran a website that allowed fans to give money to a cancer charity on behalf of the terminal lead character. Thursday, the cable station turned off the donate button.

The decision was made after AMC officials learned they had been directing tens of thousands of dollars to a charity ranked as one of the nation's 50 worst by the Tampa Bay Times and The Center for Investigative Reporting. The rankings are based on the amount of money charities spend on outside fundraisers.

AMC removed a link from that had directed people to the National Cancer Coalition. AMC officials told a CIR reporter they are examining the appropriateness of steering people to the charity, which appeared at No. 21 on the Times/CIR list.

No word yet on whether a new charity will be featured on the site.

In the second season of AMC's Breaking Bad, when Walt's son learns that his father has been diagnosed with lung cancer, he creates a website to help raise money for his dad's treatments. Walt's attorney then advises him that he should use the website to launder the money he is making as a drug dealer.

At the same time the fake website was featured on the show, AMC launched an actual website: The site directed people to donate to the National Cancer Coalition.

A spokeswoman for AMC could not explain how the network chose the cancer charity as the recipient of fans' good will.

According to AMC's website, brought more than $125,000 in donations to National Cancer Coalition in Raleigh, N.C., between the time the website was set up in 2009 and October 2012.

No one seems to have asked what the charity does with its money.

The National Cancer Coalition's stated mission is to help patients and families affected by cancer and other serious diseases. It is one of the nation's biggest charities, with annual revenue of more than $140 million.

Most of that reported revenue is not cash, but donated medicine and medical supplies. In 2011, the charity claimed it was donating drugs for a vaccination program in Ghana, a claim the organization managing the program denied.

Although the charity officials claimed in a Q&A posted on AMC's website that it gives money to organizations that help cancer patients pay for things like gasoline, the Times/CIR investigation found that about 1 percent of all the cash raised by solicitors for the charity over the past decade was given to organizations or to patients.

The National Cancer Coalition said there is no formal relationship between the charity and AMC or Breaking Bad. A spokesman said the charity is proud of its work and does not believe it should be included on the list of the worst charities.

'Breaking Bad' fundraiser funnels cash to one of America's worst charities 08/21/13 [Last modified: Thursday, August 22, 2013 4:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Carrollwood fitness center employs scientific protocol to help clients


    In 2005, Al Roach and Virginia Phillips, husband and wife, opened 20 Minutes to Fitness in Lakewood Ranch, and last month they opened the doors to their new location in Carrollwood.

    Preston Fisher, a personal fitness coach at 20 Minutes To Fitness, stands with an iPad while general manager/owner Angela Begin conducts an equipment demonstration. The iPad is used to track each client's information and progress. I also included one shot of just the equipment. The center recently opened in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  2. Olive Tree branches out to Wesley Chapel


    WESLEY CHAPEL — When it came time to open a second location of The Olive Tree, owners John and Donna Woelfel, decided that Wesley Chapel was the perfect place.

    The Olive Tree expands its offerings of "ultra premium?€ extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) to a second location in Wesley Chapel. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  3. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  4. New York town approves Legoland proposal


    GOSHEN, N.Y. — New York is one step closer to a Lego dreamland. Goshen, a small town about fifty miles northwest of the Big Apple, has approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park.

    A small New York town, Goshen approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park. Legoland Florida is in Winter Haven. [Times file  photo]
  5. Jordan Park to get $20 million makeover and new senior housing

    Real Estate


    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG —The St. Petersburg Housing Authority, which bought back the troubled Jordan Park public housing complex this year, plans to spend about $20 million to improve the 237-unit property and construct a new three-story building for …

    Jordan Park, the historic public housing complex, is back in the hands of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. The agency is working to improve the 237-unit complex. But the latest plan to build a new three-story building for seniors will mean 31 families have to find new homes. [LARA CERRI   |   Tampa Bay Times]