"What a great day for New York," Tina Fey said

By Dave Quinn
May 12, 2020 09:28 AM
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Tina Fey was brought to tears over the generosity of Americans who reached out to help New Yorkers affected by the coronavirus pandemic on Monday night.

The Emmy winner and Saturday Night Live alum, 49, was hosting Rise Up New York! The Robin Hood Relief Benefita star-studded virtual telethon raising money for the city's leading poverty-fighting organization — when she got emotional while reading the final tally.

"Is this real?" she asked producers, seeing the number for the first time. "Okay. $115 million. We did this. You did this. We are difference makers. $115 million! What a great day for New York."

"Thank you, for everyone, who gave and gave and gave, all over the world," Fey said, holding back tears. "There's so much more to do. Please visit robinhood.org. Donate. Share it. Tell your friends. Please. Let's keep this going. Robin Hood's site will say open after this telethon is over because this battle is far from over. Thank you."

Tina Fey
CBS News/Youtube

Fey, who hosted the relief benefit from her old stomping grounds of 30 Rockefeller Center, was accompanied by A-listers like Jennifer Lopez, Robert De Niro, Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Chris Rock, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sutton Foster, Rosie Perez, Jimmy Fallon, Salt-N-Pepa, Fab 5 Freddy, Trevor Noah, Danny Meyer, David Chang and Beastie Boys rappers Mike D and Ad-Rock.

"COVID-19 has been an unprecedented global event, but no place has been hit harder than New York," Fey explained. "Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are out of work and 2 million of our neighbors are now going hungry. We're going to honor this incredible city and show how we can rise up and help our neighbors in need."

Lopez chimed in, "New York, I know your strength. We're going to get through this, but we need to make sure we take care of all our neighbors, including our children."

"Our city is under attack, but we’ve been here before," added De Niro. "In the last 20 years, both 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy. You can take your best shot but you cannot break our spirit."

The special had already raised $1.5 million since it was announced in March and the additional $113.5 million came in as a result of the benefit special.

The event also featured some A-list performances. Mariah Carey kicked things off by singing her 1992 hit, "Make It Happen," after assuring those in her native state, "We can make it through this together."

Sting took on The Police's 1979 hit, "Message in a Bottle," while Jon Bon Jovi performed his band's 2000 tune, "It's My Life." Students from Staten Island's PS22 Chorus also gave an emotional rendition of Andra Day’s "Rise Up," while Alicia Keys sang her new single, "Good Job."

Barbra Streisand, Audra McDonald and Patti LuPone led a tribute to Broadway, which LuPone theorized would likely be the last industry in the city to come back.

Their words introduced a performance of the Kander and Ebb classic "New York, New York" — the anthem made popular by Liza Minelli (and later, Frank Sinatra). This time, theater stars Lin-Manuel Miranda, Andrew Rannells, Cynthia Erivo, Karen Olivo, Ben Platt and Christopher Jackson covered the hit.

Spike Lee spoke optimistically about the return of sports, while New York Giants greats Eli Manning, Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck and Phil Simms announced a sweepstakes that would allow one fan to get a Super Bowl ring and play a game of touch football with an NFL star of their choosing in their own backyard.

Stories of courageous frontline workers and those affected by the crisis were told throughout the benefit and Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with former mayor Michael Bloomberg also made appearances.

The evening ended with Billie Joel performing a touching tribute to the Big Apple with his song "Miami 2017." The performance featured a corresponding light show on the Empire State Building.

All donations from the virtual telethon, which was broadcast across multiple networks and iHeartMedia radio channels, will go to Robin Hood's efforts to provide food, shelter, mental health, education, financial and legal services to those in need.

As for Tuesday morning, more than 1,354,300 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 80,600 have died, according to a New York Times database.

In New York City alone, there have been at least 190,546 cases and 19,563 deaths.

To donate to Robin Hood, visit robinhood.org.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.