If it weren’t so sad, the ignorant hysteria that swirls up when Amway’s name lands on some people’s radars would be comical.
The latest is the news that Amway will have a presence at Citi Field, the ballpark for the New York Mets, one of the highest profile Major League Baseball teams.
The corporation’s presence comes in the form of the Amway Business Center at Citi Field for Amway Independent Business Owners (IBOs). This is the first facility of its kind in the United States. Others exist around the world, including Asia, Australia and Europe.
These business centers, while open to the general public, have been designed with IBOs in mind–to support them as they grow their Amway businesses.
Unfortunately that important distinction seems to have eluded the media. (Cue the punch lines littered with tired references to Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes and cults.)
Big Apple publications like the New York Daily News and The New York Times couldn’t resist drawing some link between the Mets’ ownership being scammed by an actual Ponzi scheme shyster, Bernie Madoff, and this multi-billion-dollar, globally respected brand.
While Madoff scammed people out of a reported $65 billion, is the media aware that Amway in its 54-year history has paid almost $40 billion in cash and incentives to distributors? And that it employs 21,000 people in 100 countries and territories?
Reporters predictably are trotting out the usual negative stereotypes and selective fodder to mock the move. For example, the Daily News sub-headline refers to the class-action lawsuit against Amway that I wrote about in mid-January.
Some coverage has a tone of incredulity, as if this is something so strange and out of the blue. But even casual sports fans know that Amway has long had ties to professional sports, most notably Amway co-founder Rich DeVos owning the Orlando Magic of the NBA since 1991.
News flash: the Magic play at Amway Center, which is 875,000 square feet. And some people are freaking out about what amounts to a tiny fraction of that?
In addition, Amway is a sponsor of the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League and, until this past fall, was a three-year sponsor of the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer.
Through its Nutrilite brand, the world’s #1 selling vitamin and dietary supplements brand, the connection to achieving optimal health—a highly relevant trait for professional athletes, obviously—is clear.
Equally clear is that Amway, which has been around longer than the Mets franchise, isn’t about to shy away from forging such prominent sports-related partnerships.
The initial flurry of potshots is like the first day of spring training: in the big picture, it’s just another day at the office.