This was a “First Look”—the initial meeting where Amwayers bring prospects to scare them about the future—and Scott delivered it with gusto and verve. Sherri had told me to expect an hour-long talk, but two and a half hours barely winded this speaker. He delivered 150 minutes of fast patter without notes, and touched upon such diverse topics as the high divorce rate, the quality of McDonald’s hamburgers, IBM’s strategy of diversification, and the number of cupholders in the minivan he had recently bought with cash. I would later realize that this was a typical Amway speech: somewhere between an infomercial and a sermon, a loosely organized string of riffs that bespoke either improvisational genius or, more likely, countless repetitions.
In Simply Rich, DeVos describes buying full-page advertisements for Reagan in popular magazines during his presidential runs because ‘we wanted the Amway distributors and their customers to know that we supported Reagan, in the hope that they would support him, too.’ Adding, ‘We also thought the ads might further help Amway distributors recognize the importance of free enterprise to their success.’ This is not the only time Amway has encouraged its sales force to back its political agenda. In 1994, Amway Crown Ambassador and motivational mogul Dexter Yager used Amway’s extensive voice mail system to raise almost half of Amway distributor and ‘strong conservative’ congresswoman Sue Myrick’s campaign funds when she ran for North Carolina’s ninth congressional district. The year Myrick was elected, Amway donated $1.3 million to the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau to pay for Republican ‘infomercials’ airing on televangelist Pat Robertson’s Family Channel during the party’s August convention.
Her alienation didn’t stop with non-Amwayers. She was also bitterly resentful of “crosslines,” her Amway cousins who belonged to other downlines. As fellow unrecovered wage junkies, they were a potential reservoir of misinformation, discontent, and backsliding. Josh cautioned her against fraternizing: Polite small talk was O.K., but you shouldn’t, say, go to a movie with them (Amway lore is full of disaster stories about crosslines who carpool). But Sherri’s animus went further. Crosslines were her competition, soaking up prospects and “saturating” Chicago before she had a chance. She was incensed when they hogged seats at meetings, hysterical when they went Direct.
But The Dream’s real concern is far from the key-party-and-polyester image conjured by the airplane game. Marie and her producer had, like many people, noticed her Facebook feed filling up with friends from high school selling leggings, or makeup, or handbags, asking their friends to buy them and sign up as salesmen themselves. They’re all participating in multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes, which anyone involved will tell you are not a pyramid scheme, because pyramid schemes are illegal.
In 2014, Founders Crown Ambassadors Barry Chi and Holly Chen, who run the biggest Amway distributorship in the world based in Taiwan, were sued by nine Chinese immigrants in the Southern California region who claimed that, although Chi and Chen promised they could potentially make millions in commissions, Amway business owners make closer to $200 a month.

Is Amway A Scam? Amway is not a scam. Amway is a legit company and its business model is around referral based marketing (mlm/direct sales industry) instead of paying for advertising, billboards, tv commercials, etc. They pay their IBO’s or distributors a small commissions for helping them get the word out and when someone buys product from that IBO.

I was sitting next to Elizabeth and couldn’t imagine what she was thinking. (True to form, Brad didn’t mention Amway for over an hour.) At first, she laughed and clapped with the rest of the audience; as the evening wore on, however, there was a lag. Her responses became more tentative as the crowd of hundreds became more wildly, foot-stompingly enthusiastic. Afterwards, she was dazed and hollow-eyed. In the parking lot, Josh, Jean, and Sherri encircled her, urging her to meet with them the next day to learn more about The Business. Cornered, she agreed. After a few minutes in the car with Sherri, however, she regained enough strength to put the meeting off to the indefinite future. (Months later, she was still on Josh’s “hopeful” list.)


Thanks to the DeVoses, Michigan’s charter schools enjoy a virtually unregulated existence. Thanks to them, too, the center of the American automotive industry and birthplace of the modern labor movement is now a right-to-work state. They’ve funded campaigns to elect state legislators, established advocacy organizations to lobby them, buttressed their allies and primaried those they disagree with, spending at least $100 million on political campaigns and causes over the past 20 years. “The DeVos family has been far more successful not having the governor’s seat than if they had won it,” says Richard Czuba, the owner of the Glengariff Group, a bipartisan polling firm in Michigan. “They have, to some degree, created a shadow state party. And it’s been pretty darn effective.”
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