The winners of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest have passed the mic. Per Variety, Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra raised $900,000 for the Ukrainian military by auctioning off their first-place microphone trophy. “You guys are amazing! We appreciate each and every one of you who donated to this auction and a special thanks to the team Whitebit who purchased the trophy for $900,000 and are now the rightful owners of our trophy,” the band wrote on Facebook. “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.” According to Reuters, Ukrainian TV presenter Serhiy Prytula said during an auction Sunday that the funds would be used to purchase a PD-2 unmanned aerial drone system for the Ukrainian army.
After Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, the European Broadcasting Union announced that Russia would not be allowed to compete in Eurovision this year. According to USA Today, the six members of Kalush Orchestra were on tour when the invasion began and narrowly avoided bombings. While their submission song, “Stefania,” was written before the invasion began, its lyrics about motherhood have been reinterpreted as a patriotic Ukrainian anthem amid the ongoing conflict. Reportedly, one Kalush Orchestra member joined the early territorial forces defending the capital, Kyiv, while the group’s lead singer formed a volunteer organization to help people find shelter, medicine, and transportation. On the same day as the Eurovision trophy auction, Kalush Orchestra performed at a charity concert at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate to raise money for medicine and other supplies.