A Louisiana-based televangelist swiped back at critics of his recent request for a $54 million jet after he asked his followers to help him replace his 12-year-old private jet.
Speaking out for the first time since his comment went viral this week, prosperity gospel preacher Jesse Duplantis said he had "never done anything wrong" and attempted to clear up misconceptions of his ministry, including reports that he currently owns three private jets -- all sanctioned by his followers.
"There was a misnomer on that one. I said I've had three jets, I don't have three jets," he said in an interview with ABC News' "Good Morning America" on Wednesday. "Two of them now are in other ministries. I only own one airplane now."
Duplantis, noting that he had "never had a scandal" in his 40 years of preaching full time, said he welcomes all of the attention and criticism he's received lately.
"The reason I'm happy about it is because I haven't done anything wrong, and I haven't raised any money for that plane," Duplantis said. "I just told people this: 'I want y'all to believe with me for this plane. ... I want people to believe with me."
Duplantis said his critics, including those who have called him greedy, "don’t know about this," but his church, Jesse Duplantis Ministries, plans to donate its old jet if the congregation chips in for a brand new one: A Dassault Falcon 7X, which costs about $54 million.
It will deliver the old jet to a needy organization when the new one arrives, he said.
"The one we're flying now, I've had it for 12 years, it's a phenomenal plane and it's a blessing," Duplantis said. "But I don't have a fleet of jets. People misunderstand that. I've had three of them though, but two of them are in other people's ministries."
Duplantis stirred up controversy this week after video surfaced showing him asking his followers to donate toward his church's new pair of wings.
"If Jesus Christ was physically on this earth today, he wouldn't be riding a donkey," Duplantis said in a video posted on his website. "He'd be in an airplane preaching the gospel all over the world."
Many people took to social media to express outrage over the lofty request, with some calling him manipulative. Duplantis said those people don't understand the amount of hard work that goes with spreading the gospel.
"I don't think of an airplane as luxurious, I think of an airplane as work," he said. "I'm almost 69 years old. 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 are asking me to come."
"I preach as much as I can," Duplantis said. "I have to get back and forth constantly all the time and that's the reason for it."