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Suzanne Somers has squeezed, squeezed her way to a fortune shilling the ThighMaster.
The Three's Company star, 75, revealed that she has made approximately $300 million from the exercise device she started selling in the 1990s.
"We stopped counting when we sold 10 million of them, but they continue to sell and sell," Somers said on the Hollywood Raw podcast.
Pressed for a number, Somers said, "It's $19.95 x 10 million, so you kind of do the math," adding, "We’re probably at 15 million [sold] now."
The math puts the total at approximately $299.5 million. And that's not factoring in some versions of the product that sell for more. For instance, on her website there's a "gold" version, which retails for $49.95 (though it's currently sold out). There's also the $79.99 "toning system" package with a ThighMaster, ButtMaster and a DVD.
Somers, who talked on the podcast about growing up "poor," put her hands to her cheeks when she was told the ThighMaster made nearly $300 million. Then quipped, "But I spent a lot. You should see my clothes."
As for ownership of the product, she owns it "outright," she said. She and husband Alan Hamel "had partners, 50-50, and they got drunk on money when it all started selling. They overspent to the point where they could no longer afford to be in their side of the business. We bought them out. We have 100 percent."
Somers said that part of her massive fortune — because she also sells organic, toxin-free makeup, hair, skin and body products, among other things — is "all because of a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes!"
In an interview with Entrepreneur in 2020, Somers spoke about how she came to invest in the product, which saw her starring in TV commercials focused exclusively on her gams. "Squeeze, squeeze your way to shapely hips and thighs," she'd say, demonstrating how the odd-looking contraption — two pieces of metal tube bent in a loop and connected with a hinge — worked.
"I had bought this pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes that were, at that time, 500 bucks. I was in my dressing room and thought, ‘Oh my husband is going to think this is so crazy spending this much money.’ But for me, they were perfect. So I walked out of my dressing room in my underwear and I said to my husband, ‘Like my new shoes?’ And he said, ‘Great legs!’ And I went, ‘Oh my God, that's the commercial!’ That’s how we started the commercial if you recall. We sold 10 million ThighMasters right out of the gate. It still sells to this day even though we don’t advertise."
She added, "I've written 27 books on health. I’ve done 16 or 18 years of series television, I’ve given lectures — and the thing I am best known for is the ThighMaster! I think it was the tagline: ‘You just put it between your knees and squeeze.’ It was the right product, the right place, the right timing, the right spokesperson — the right everything. It was a perfect storm.”
Somers and husband Hamel, whom she married in 1977, were initially pitched a product called "The V-Toner," and the concept behind it was to use it to tone the upper body.
"I'm staring at it and I said, ‘Does that work for the inner thighs?’" Somers recalled in the Entrepreneur interview. She was told, "‘Yeah, but people are more interested in their upper body.’ And I said, ‘Not women!’ And so that day we took over ownership of it and renamed it ThighMaster. That was our foray into branding and we haven’t stopped since."
Somers said on the Hollywood Raw podcast that her key to amassing a fortune selling products — also including memory renewing supplements — is that you " have a passion about whatever" it is.
"I wanted to keep my legs looking great, for those Manolo Blahnik shoes, so there was a weird passion there," she said. "All the other things we sell now, I have a passion about. I don't want to put chemicals on my skin. I don't want my brain shrinking... For someone who played the dumbest blonde on television, I have a really good brain," referring to her iconic TV character Chrissy Snow.
She's also made a significant amount offloading real estate in recent years. Last year, she and Hamel finally offloaded their Palm Springs estate for $8.5 after they already built a new home in the area. In 2016, she sold two Malibu, Calif., plots of land for $12 million.