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Louisiana televangelist seeking funds for $54 million jet says he'll donate old plane

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 5/31/2018

A Louisiana-based televangelist dismissed the backlash sparked by his recent request for $54 million in donations for a private jet, vowing to donate the 12-year-old aircraft he currently owns should his followers come through with the cash.

Prominent Prosperity Preacher Jesse Duplantis stirred controversy this week for his weekly video address in which he claims he needs the pricey Dassault Falcon 7X to spread God’s word.

“First of all, I never think of an airplane as luxurious, I think of an airplane as work,” he told ABC News’ Good Morning America Wednesday evening. “It’s all about preaching the Gospel of the lord, Jesus Christ. It’s not about luxury.”

He also rejected the notion that he currently owns three planes — all paid for by the congregants of Jesse Duplantis Ministries — as some reports suggested in wake of his viral video.

“There was a misnomer on that one. I said I’ve had three jets, I don’t have three jets,” Duplantis told ABC. “Two of them are in other ministries. I only own one airplane now.”

He called his current, 12-year-old jet “phenomenal” and a “blessing," while also emphasizing a new aircraft would help him travel more quickly and save on maintenance costs.

a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera © Jesse Duplantis Ministries via Twitter

The Dassault Falcon 7X, billed as “the benchmarks for the 21st century business jet,” reaches the sound barrier and also boasts a blue tooth entertainment center as well as an optional in-flight shower.

The internet exploded with criticism when Duplantis’ video was shared online, many of them bashing the preacher as greedy and tone-deaf. But Duplantis said he welcomes the criticism and the spotlight it has brought to his crusade, especially given that he’s “never had a scandal” in his 40 years of full-time preaching.

“The reason I’m happy about it is because I haven’t done anything wrong, and I haven’t raised the money for that plane,” he said. “I just told people this: ‘I want y’all to believe with me for this plane’ … I want people to believe with me.”

The preacher also rejected claims that he was greedy, promising to donate his plane should he collect enough funds to buy another aircraft.

Duplantis, who aims to “preach as much as I can,” spends most of his time traveling, spending only 60 days a year at home, he said.

“I’m almost 69 years old,” he said. “I think I should stay home a little bit, but what’s happening is I have so many meetings, and people all over the world asking me to come.”

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