Whatever Happened To The ShamWow Guy?

Vince Offer made his name with catchy sayings like "Are ya followin' me, camera guy?" (on YouTube) as a pitchman for the Slap Chop, a vegetable chopper, and ShamWow, an extremely absorbent cleaning cloth that's something like a towel, sponge, and chamois all in one, according to the ShamWow website. Those advertisements went viral online and gained buzz at infomercial conventions. Most importantly, though, they sold millions of units, according to Offer, who also owns the company (via NBC News). On the strength of his all-in performance selling ShamWow, Offer — who started out as a comedian and actor — came to be known as the ShamWow Guy. After the success of those ShamWow commercials, rapper Eminem even tapped the in-demand pitchman to help hype his 2010 album "Recovery," according to Adweek

As is often the case in show business, though — or when show business and advertising intersect, as in the case of the ShamWow Guy — those who quickly ascend to fame can often fall from grace just as quickly (and maybe quicker). What nearly brought down the ShamWow Guy in 2013 is as unusual and unexpected as what made Offer so successful in the first place. But just like the ShamWow, Offer soaked up those life experiences, and these days, the ShamWow Guy is seeking a comeback.

A sham is born

Born Offer Shlomi in Israel and raised in Brooklyn, the budding viral icon, Vince Offer, quit high school at the age of 17 and ditched New York City for Los Angeles in order to pursue his dream of being a filmmaker. Offer has said in interviews that he never saw himself doing infomercials full-time, in fact. It was his passion for movies that led him to purchase and sell products on late-night infomercials, only to use his paychecks to fund his projects. Offer's first acting gig took the form of 1999's "The Underground Comedy Movie," with a budget of about $500,000, according to NBC News.

Offer also directed and acted in the movie, alongside Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash, and it's now considered to be one of the worst films ever made. It only played in one theater, on May 16, 1999, and it earned a grand total of $856, according to IMDb. Per Offer himself, ShamWow stemmed from a flea market find in 2006 — a magic little towel that could hold up to 10 times its weight. The entire idea for an infomercial empire came from Joe Francis and his "Girls Gone Wild" video series which were also advertised with infomercials on late-night TV.

Selling a sham

Those flea market visits where Offer was first inspired to create and sell ShamWow also influenced his signature aggressive pitch strategy. In a 2009 CNBC interview, Offer said, "I've been to those flea markets and nice doesn't get people to stop ... People stop when you are aggressive and when you bring them in." The first witty ShamWow advertisement, filmed in 2007 with a budget of only $20,000, received acclaim from critics. Slate praised Offer's "impressive and subtle mastery of the pitchman's art," and compared Offer to infomercial legend Billy Mays and the Home Shopping Network hosts.

But while the infomercial superstar won't spill the tea on exactly how much money ShamWow made him, those chamois cloths rebranded as ShamWows could be purchased wholesale in bundles of three for $.50, according to a 2013 report by NBC News. Offer packaged them in bundles of eight, which he sold for $19.95 each, plus shipping and handling. Quite clearly, his margins were good. By 2009, business was good enough for Offer to hire some help running ShamWow and take some time off. Before long, Offer was back in the headlines, though — and this time, he was in trouble.

Where is Offer ShamNow?

Shortly after Offer stepped back a bit from his company, the ShamWow Guy got into a physical altercation with an alleged sex worker in Miami Beach. Both Offer and the woman in question were arrested by local police. Offer claimed the woman bit his tongue and wouldn't let go, according to the police report. Offer's image — this time an unflattering mugshot (pictured above) — once more went viral, along with unfortunate headlines such as "ShamWow Guy Beats Up Cannibal Hooker" (via Gawker). The incident happened after a 12-hour drinking binge, according to Offer (via NBC News).

Offer also told NBC News he's cleaned up his life. He's cut back on drinking, and is now seeking a return to the spotlight and to filmmaking, even though his 2013 feature film "InAPPropriate Comedy" was called "stunningly awful" by The New York Times. It seems Offer is best-suited to own a business and pitch products, peddling a washable lint roller called The Schticky, the "InVinceable" kitchen cleaner, and Quicky Grass. Never one to miss an opportunity, Offer also now sells ShamWow-branded face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both online from the ShamWow Mask website and on his own YouTube channel. He's also the president and CEO of Square One Entertainment, a production company, according to its website, and he has a fairly active Instagram account.