You’ve seen them on TV, popular televangelists who preach the gospel to millions of people around the world. You may be surprised that these men of God are living a lifestyle few could imagine.
Jesse Duplantis and Kenneth Copeland drive fancy cars and live inside lavish mansions. They also fly in some of the best private jets money can buy.
Pastor Jesse Duplantis zips around in a Dassault Falcon 50 jet paid for by his church. Inside Edition found him boarding his plane with his wife for a short one-hour flight from Fort Worth, Texas, to his home outside New Orleans.
The estimated round-trip cost $14,000. If he flew commercial, it would have been as low as $180.
He said his jet allows him to better spread his message around the world, including Hawaii, which he has traveled to 16 times since 2006.
Duplantis now wants an upgrade to a $54 million Dassault 7X that comes with lavish interiors. Only the wealthiest people in the world can afford such luxury.
When he did not respond to Inside Edition’s requests for an interview, Chief Investigative Correspondent Lisa Guerrero met him at a book signing.
“Hi, I’m from Inside Edition, I'd love for you to set the record straight, sir, why do you need a $54 million jet?” she asked.
“We're not doing any kind of interviews now, I’m in a book signing,” he said.
Guerrero was then whisked away by security officials, but she persisted asking him why he needed such an expensive jet.
“I'd just like to know why you need a….” she said as she was being pulled away. “Keep your hands off of me, do not touch me. Why are you people touching me like this?”
The next day on the pulpit, he joked about security pushing Guerrero away, telling his adoring audience, “She’s gone, I heard her holler. I came back and said, 'What did you do with her?' He [the security guard] said, 'I made her "Outside Edition."'”
However, when it comes to luxurious travel, very few people can beat Copeland, who has his own airport next to his lovely mansion in Newark, Texas. Copeland actually has two private jets, a $20 million Citation X and a Gulfstream V jet that he recently bought from movie director Tyler Perry.
He's flown his jets to a vacation ski resort in Colorado at least 143 times since 2000.
Guerrero caught up with Copeland in Branson, Missouri.
“You said that you don’t like to fly commercial because you don’t want to get into a tube with a bunch of demons. Do you really believe that human beings are demons?” she asked him.
“No I do not and don’t you ever say I did,” Copeland responded. Copeland said the jet is important to his ministry. “If I flew commercial, I’d have to stop 65% of what I’m doing."
“How much did you pay for Tyler Perry's Gulfsteam jet for example?” Guerrero countered.
“Well, for example, that's really not of your business,” he replied.
“Isn't it the business of your donors?” she asked.
“Listen, he made that airplane so cheap for me, I couldn't help but buy it,” Copeland said.
It's impossible to know exactly how many millions of dollars these ministries take in each year because they are not required to make financial disclosures of donations they receive and all of it is tax exempt.