Friday night’s “Hope For Haiti Now” telethon raised more than $61 million for the victims of the devastating earthquake that struck the Caribbean island two weeks ago, Reuters reports. An average of 24 million people watched the entire two-hour special, while an astounding 83 million total U.S. viewers tuned in at various points of the telecast and an additional 5.8 million streamed the special online. As Rolling Stone reported in our live blog, “Hope For Haiti Now” featured memorable performances by Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris, Madonna, Neil Young and Dave Matthews, Beyoncé, a collaboration between Jay-Z, U2’s Bono and the Edge and Rihanna and more.
While the song “Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour),” performed by Jay-Z, U2 and Rihanna, was the big story heading into “Hope For Haiti Now,” the performance that has drawn the most charity downloads on iTunes internationally has been Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris’ duet on Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” In fact, as of press time, JT’s “Hallelujah” continues to top U.S. iTunes Top Singles chart, beating out Taylor Swift’s “Today Was a Fairytale”; it’s also the lone “Hope For Haiti Now” performance on the iTunes Top 10 songs chart. The entire Hope For Haiti Now album currently sits at Number One on iTunes’ Albums Chart, and is all but guaranteed the top spot on tomorrow’s Billboard 200 chart.
According to Reuters, organizers will continue to collect money from “Hope For Haiti Now” for the next six months. Despite the ongoing recession, the telethon raised more than the Hurricane Katrina special “Shelter From the Storm,” which pulled in $40 million. In fact, “Hope For Haiti Now” wound up in the same impressive ballpark as American Idol‘s two “Idol Gives Back” specials, which raised $76 million and $60 million in 2007 and 2008.