Gary Susman
September 13, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Tycoon Mark Cuban plans to give away $1 million to the person he deems most deserving on the new series ”The Benefactor,” but as a TV philanthropist, he’s a piker compared to Oprah Winfrey. On Monday, the Associated Press reports, she kicked off the 19th season of her syndicated daytime talk show by giving away a new car to each person in her audience — all 276 of them. ”Everybody gets a car! Everybody gets a car! Everybody gets a car!” the host shouted as she jumped up and down onstage. After similarly emotional displays from the audience, the whole group went outside Oprah’s Chicago studio to see a fleet of Pontiac G-6 sedans in the parking lot, each wrapped with a giant red bow.

Oprah revealed that she had chosen the audience members based on letters sent by relatives or friends who had written of the individuals’ need for new transportation. Her generous streak continued with a gift of a college scholarship, a makeover, and $10,000 worth of clothes to a 20-year-old woman with a history of homelessness and foster care. She also helped a family that has eight foster children and had been facing eviction by spending $130,000 to buy the family the deed to their home and pay for renovations. We hear that next week, Oprah will pay off the national debt and end world hunger.

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