Move Over Oscars, Kevin Hart Just Hosted the Walmart Associates Celebration
Is there anything more American than getting a gig with Walmart after losing out on your dream job?
Kevin Hart was famously removed from hosting duties at the 2019 Oscars after refusing to apologize for a series of past homophobic tweets and jokes that had resurfaced. Hart had spent his entire career hoping to achieve the honor that a scant few stand-ups ever experience, but since the controversy, he has since resigned himself to the reality that he will never join the ranks of the Jimmy Kimmels and Billy Crystals of Oscar royalty.
However, yesterday, Hart hosted a slightly less prestigious but still impressive event — the Walmart Associates Celebration in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The annual event caps off Walmart’s annual “Associates Week,” which celebrates the company’s underappreciated, underpaid and almost entirely uninsured in-store workers, complete with a litany of celebrity appearances such as Hart’s. The Waltons sure know how to put the “part-y” in “part-time.”
In addition to Hart’s part as the master of ceremonies, Walmart workers (and shareholders) were treated to performances from Shania Twain and John Legend, while Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans also appeared to hawk an at-home workout kit and a dog food brand. Hart, however, was the crown jewel of the event, as the identity of the celebrity host is traditionally kept a secret until the day of the festivities. By all accounts out of Arkansas, the comic’s performance was a smashing success.
This same week, the shareholders and executives of Walmart met to review the shareholders’ proposals regarding, among other issues, risks of doing business with China, executive compensation, human rights, racial equality, workplace safety and violence. All such measures were rejected.
Walmart is the single largest employer in the world with almost 2.3 million people reporting for work at Walmarts across the world. However, for a startling number of these employees, Walmart fails to meet their most basic needs — in America, 70 percent of federal aid beneficiaries work full-time, and Walmart employs more enrollees of Medicaid and SNAP benefits than any other company in the country. Walmart might not be able to help their employees put food on the table or access lifesaving medicine, but at least they can shell out for a star-studded celebration that roughly 6,000 of their workers could afford to attend.
Imagine if your employer didn’t provide the most basic benefits or pay a living wage, but, once a year, you were treated to one hell of a pizza party — hosted by Kevin Hart.