Good lede by Matt Meyerhoff on this week's L.A. Business Journal front-pager about TV huckster Ron Popeil, who is now 70 years old, cashing out of his famous Ronco Corp, home of the Veg-o-Matic and a gazillion other products not available in retail stores:
Ron Popeil, the storied television pitchman who has peddled vegetable choppers and tabletop rotisserie ovens with the persuasiveness of a modern-day P.T. Barnum, has decided to sell his company – not for $20 million, or $30 million or even $50 million.
He has sold out for the amazing price of $56.5 million.
But wait, there’s more!
Popeil will consult on inventions and continue to appear in television spots. His deal includes a three-year consulting agreement that will pay him $500,000 a year and a percentage of gross profits for products he promotes. Additionally, he will receive $10,000 for every guest appearance on TV or at a retailer, $50,000 for every infomercial produced and $50,000 for each appearance on Home & Garden Television, according to the company’s prospectus.
“Ron tests all his products in his home. His kitchen is his own lab,” said Gilbert Azafrani, the company’s general counsel. “Every time I’ve been to his house, for every meeting, he’s cooking and wants you to taste something. He’s constantly inventing and testing some kind of spatula or utensil.”
Ronco's website says that Popeil has moved $2 billion in merchandise in forty years of pitching. There have been imitators, of course, but the best-known knock-off was introduced by Dan Ackroyd on "Saturday Night Live" in the 1970s: