The sports network, ESPN, has published a major investigation of the involvement of some sports stars as endorsers of a “multi-level marketing” scheme, called Advocare International, offering evidence of bogus medical claims and misleading income promises. The most visible “endorser” of the scheme is Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints NFL football team. Advocare is related by its founders to Herbalife and the defunct MLM scheme, Omnitrition, both charged in lawsuits for running pyramid schemes. Herbalife is currently under FTC investigation. The article questions how Advocare could be endorsed and promoted to young people as a good “income opportunity.” A study of the disclosures from the company shows that 70% of all “distributors” earned nothing in 2014 and only 1% of all distributors earn more than $5,000 before taxes, quota-based purchases and recruiting expenses. The Advocare “disclosure” includes exaggerated “averages” of income and does not reveal costs or quitting rates of recruits. The income scheme is based primarily on purchases made by the salespeople, not customers, so the “earnings” of a tiny group at the top come from the payments made by their recruits who are told to recruit others to recoup their costs and gain profits, though almost none ever become profitable.
Drew Brees and other Advocare “endorsers” are paid to hype Advocare. Brees also gains payments on consumer purchases of the products. The full ESPN article can be read HERE.