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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Ericast 306 - RIP Russell Whitney

People live. People die. I get that. But sometimes things line up in a way you didn't quite expect. If you ever wanted a peek inside my fascination with get-rich-quick celebrities, here's your show.

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We're continuing with "the weekly podcast that comes out about once a month."  And while I'd much rather be upstairs sleeping right now, I came down to Studio A because the chances of me getting a podcast out on a Friday night are slim, and then we're in June already!

Growing up reading magazine ads but having no money to send the $9.95 and the SASE.  The famous "What is this woman doing?" ad that I can't find any sign up; that might be my summer research project.  (Anyone know what it was?)

Whether they knew it or not, people know the kind of world I'm talking about because Don Lapre was popular, and popular enough to be parodied by David Spade on SNL.  He'd set up a half-hour informercial where he'd stand someplace exotic like a beach and tell you the magic of "placing tiny classified ads..."

Well, that didn't end well.  "Lapre died on October 2, 2011, while in jail awaiting his trial, which was scheduled to begin on October 4, 2011."

The other infomercial king at the time was Carleton Sheets. His informercial theme was real estate, and his videos usually featured palm trees between him and the ocean.  In search for more information years and years ago, I came across the website of John T. Reed.

John T. Reed maintains a website of "real-estate-invesement gurus" and in addition to discussing Carleton Sheets, he spent a realy long time documenting his lawsuit with a guru named Russ Whitney.  Those lawsuits were settled in 2005 and that information is gone now... but it stuck in my head.

So, fast-forward to the fall of 2017.  I had signed up for some sort of "internet investing" seminar that was being held at the new Radisson Blu hotel attached to the Mall of America.  If nothing else, it'd be cool to see the hotel.  So I went, and the speaker introduced himself as "Russell Whitney".  That sounded realy familiar.  Long story short, this was Russell Whitney Jr., who's the spitting-image son of Russ Whitney of 1980s real estate marketing fame. The seminar was for MOBE, which was an internet-marketing Ponzi scheme (which then got shut down by the FTC last summer).

Prior to that shutdown, Russell gave an interview on a marketing podcast talking about overcoming his (major, dangerous) drug addictions and staying 100% clean because of his addictive personality (NSFW language in the podcast, but it's a really great interview: https://www.droppingbombs.com/russ-whitney-be-rich/ )

Last September, he posted an Instagram photo with a touching note that concluded: "I love my wife and son with all my heart. They have made my life complete. # success # familymatters"

(You're right; this story doesn't end well.)

Miami-Dade is an open-records county and less than 24 hours after I requested it I got a copy of the coroner's report: Russel Whitney Jr. died on November 20th, 2018 of "Acute Combined Drug Toxicity (Heroin, Fentanyl, Acetyl Fentanyl, Oxycodone and Cocaine)"

What do you do when you have a "comeback story" and the comeback doesn't stick?

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