Teen Triumphs Over Matt Gaetz by Raising $500k for Abortion Funds: 'I Win'

Days after being publicly targeted by Representative Matt Gaetz, Olivia Julianna, a 19-year-old political strategist for Gen-Z for Change, has raised more than $500,000 for abortion funds.

Julianna launched the fundraiser for the youth-led nonprofit organization's abortion fund after being body-shamed by the Florida Republican congressman on Twitter.

It quickly gathered stream, and by early Thursday, the total stood at over $570,000.

"America, thank you. We have now raised half a million dollars for abortion funds across the country," she tweeted early on Thursday. "Matt [Gaetz] attacked me, and I think it is safe to say not only did I win—but that every politician should think twice before crossing me or @genzforchange again."

"I'm in shock," Julianna told Newsweek on Thursday. "I did not think this would be as successful as it's been. My goal was only to raise a few thousand dollars; I never expected for this to take off as much as it has."

Julianna added that she is "so eternally grateful" to everyone who has raised awareness for and donated to the Gen-Z for Choice fund, which splits donations between 50 abortion funds in states that need resources the most.

"These donations will help people get services they need in a time where reproductive healthcare is being criminalized. It cannot be understated— these donations will help save people's lives," she said.

Julianna thanked Gaetz, saying he "handed me a national platform on a silver platter and now I get to share my messages and my work with even more people."

"[If he] would accept my gift I'd like to send him a bouquet of flowers," she added. "One flower for every hundred thousand dollars we've raised for abortion funds so far."

Joel Valdez, Gaetz's communications director, told Newsweek on Thursday: "With Roe v. Wade overturned, America is now a pro-life nation. No amount of solicitations will change that."

Julianna's photo was shared on Twitter by the congressman after she criticized fat-phobic remarks he had made about abortion rights activists over the weekend.

"Why is it that the women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions? Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb," Gaetz said at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in Tampa, Florida.

"These people are odious from the inside out. They're like 5′ 2″, 350 pounds, and they're like, 'Give me my abortions or I'll get up and march and protest.'"

Julianna hit back on Twitter, writing: "I'm actually 5'11. 6'4 in heels. I wear them so small men like you are reminded of your place."

In an apparent response to that tweet, Gaetz shared an image of Julianna alongside a Newsmax article with a headline describing his comments as a "rant sure to raise dander of his political opponents."

"Dander raised..." he wrote alongside her photo.

Olivia Julianna
Olivia Julianna of Gen-Z for Change started fundraising for abortion funds after Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz body-shamed her on social media. Elise Joshi

Julianna called the congressman "despicable" and pointed out that he is under investigation for the alleged sex trafficking of a 17-year-old girl.

"A sitting congressman decided that body-shaming a teenager was appropriate. That is despicable. What's even more despicable is that said congressman is allegedly sexually predatory to minors," she told Newsweek earlier this week.

"If I was Matt Gaetz I'd worry more about potential investigations into sexual misconduct and less about teenage activists," she said. Gaetz has denied the allegations.

A spokesperson for Gaetz earlier told Newsweek that Gaetz's speech in Tampa "spoke for itself."

And the congressman doubled down on those comments in an interview with Pensacola news station WEAR-TV on Monday.

When asked if he was suggesting that women at abortion rights rallies are ugly and overweight, Gaetz said: "Yes." Asked what he had to say to those who found his comments offensive, Gaetz responded: "Be offended."

Update 7/28/22, 11:08 a.m. ET: This story has been updated with comments from Gaetz's spokesperson.