Written by { Bonnie Davidson

Photography by { John Russo

Fashion, fast cars and philanthropy are the driving forces in Maximillion Cooper’s life. All three passions converged in 1999, when the British designer, entrepreneur, motor sportsman and street-culture enthusiast invited about 50 of his best jet-set friends to join him on a 3,000-mile road trip across Europe, stopping only for glamorous parties in different cities en route. Dubbed Gumball 3000, the joyride of McLarens, Ferraris and Bentleys instantly zoomed to international fame. Today, Cooper’s brainchild has evolved into not only an annual luxury automobile rally, but also a $300 million lifestyle brand and global entertainment company, with licensing deals and collaborations for video games, watches, energy drinks, special edition cars, footwear and apparel sold in thousands of retail stores worldwide.

Phenomenal success prompted Cooper to shift his altruism into overdrive in 2013, when he established the Gumball 3000 Foundation, a charity that channels the collective means and influence of the rally’s 5,000-plus high-net-worth participants—including supermodels, rockstars, movie stars, sports legends, royals, dotcom giants and other captains of industry—to benefit underprivileged youth around the world. By his side is his wife, Eve, the Grammy-winning rapper, actress and host of ABC’s The Talk, whom he met at the 2010 Gumball 3000 rally and married in 2014 in Ibiza, the final stop of that year’s rally.  

“We wanted to utilize this unique network and our voice as a youth culture brand to support worthy causes and help bring positive change to low-income communities,” says Cooper, whose main focus is on investing in recreation, education and infrastructure.

“Not only do we have the ability to fundraise, but our network of celebrity members has the ability to open doors and create opportunities where politicians are often unable.”

As CEO, Cooper is in the driver’s seat of the foundation, working closely with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, the Tony Hawk Foundation, Usher’s New Look, Project Wreckless and Laureus Sport for Good, among others. The foundation supports “some incredible projects,” he continues. “But for me, personally, growing up skateboarding, I’m particularly proud to support the Tony Hawk Foundation and their efforts to create high-quality, public skateparks in low-income communities. Tony is a great friend of mine, and his tireless dedication to the sport as both an athlete, ambassador and icon is hugely inspiring. His foundation not only encourages youths to be active and healthy, but skateparks are spaces where they meet other creative, like-minded individuals, form communities and together build self-confidence and awareness of the sometimes misunderstood sport.”

Prior to each Gumball 3000 rally, the foundation holds an Online Charity Grid, whereby participating teams vie to raise the most money for charity. The winner gets to start the rally in pole position. In addition, during each Gumball 3000 tour, the foundation hosts a live auction in partnership with Christie’s.

“I believe it’s the responsibility of every human to make the world a better place,” declares Cooper. “If an individual, community or even nation needs help, it should be an obligation of those in a position to help to do so. The network that the Gumball 3000 Foundation represents not only has funds to help those less fortunate, but our collective voice can help make a bigger difference through changing the thought and process of governments and corporations.” gumball3000foundation.org