Foreman Grill – An Opportunity Lost for Hulk Hogan

The Foreman Grill, also known as “The Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine,” is a portable electrically heated grill promoted by former boxing champion George Foreman. However, it was very nearly marketed under a different name. As far as bad timing goes, this has to be something Hulk Hogan has regretted over the years…

Foreman Grill - Originally Meant For Hulk Hogan?

Backstory

The concept for the grill was created by Michael Boehm of Batavia, Illinois. The initial aim for Boehm was to create an indoor grill that would provide the novel advantage of cooking on both sides at the same time. A second important benefit was to reduce the fat content of meats by draining away the fat into a separate repository.

When it came to getting money behind the product, Boehm and product engineer Bob Johnson brought a JVC camcorder and a sample of the product to the office of Barbara Westfield at Salton, Inc. The new product was presented as “The Fajita Express.” Despite being promoted at industry trade shows in the early ’90s, the fajita grill received very little interest.

One year and several trade shows later, Salton sent samples of the grill to colleagues of George Foreman, who then sent the grill to Foreman himself to try out. After changes to the product’s design were made (namely removing sections of the grill that held taco shells), George Foreman and his team signed on.

The “Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine” was introduced to vast audiences in 1994 and promoted with memorable infomercials featuring Foreman. A combination of his friendly personality and the unique features of the product made it a huge success. Such was the popularity of these infomercials that Foreman’s tagline, “It’s so good I put my name on it!” is now part of popular culture.

The worldwide acclaim of the Foreman Grill has resulted in sales of over 100 million in a span of over 15 years. Although George Foreman has never established exactly how much he has earned from the endorsement, Salton, Inc. (now under the name Spectrum Brands Legacy, Inc.) paid him $138 million in 1999 in order to buy out the right to use his name. Prior to that, he was being paid about 40% of the profits on each grill sold, earning him $4.5 million a month in payouts at its peak. In total, it is estimated that he has made over $200 million from the endorsement, a sum that is considerably more than he ever earned as a boxer.

Hulk Hogan on Missing out on the George Foreman Grill

In an interview on the MSG+ program The Game 365, Hulk Hogan opened up about how it was almost he who picked up the lucrative endorsement deal with the grill.

“George Foreman and I had the same agent,” Hogan revealed. “I went to pick my children up early from school. When I came home I checked my answering machine and my agent said, ‘Hey, Hogan, I’ve got a grill and I’ve got a blender, which one do you want to pick? I’ll call George and ask him since you’re not home…’

“When I got home I said, ‘What’s up with the grill and the blender?’ and he said, ‘George picked the grill because you weren’t home…’

“So $200 million later we’ve got the Foreman Grill and I’ve got the Thunder Mixer.

“George has joked about it on several occasions and I would knock him out if I could…”

Hulk Hogan Thunder Mixer - a far cry from the Foreman Grill when it came to revenue generated.
Hulk Hogan Thunder Mixer – a far cry from the Foreman Grill when it came to revenue generated.

Hulk Hogan was almost certainly kicking himself for not answering the phone when his agent called. He tried to bounce back with other endorsement deals but each of the products he invested in and endorsed disappeared without much fanfare. After the Thunder Mixer, Hogan invested in and endorsed a line of microwaveable burgers and sandwiches sold at Walmart called “Hulkster Burgers.” He then was unsuccessful in investing in and endorsing a grill of his own, the “Hulk Hogan Ultimate Grill.” Eventually, the Hulk Hogan Ultimate Grill was recalled on March 6, 2008, by QVC Inc. and Tristar Products Inc. due to a fire hazard. He also tried his hand at energy drink production with “Hogan Energy.”

In 2008, he had a net worth of $30 million, but personal troubles, mismanagement, and the failure of finding success with his endorsement deals brought him close to bankruptcy. It would have been a different story altogether had Hogan been available to pick up the phone from his agent. Meanwhile, George Foreman is retired and living the good life with almost a quarter of a billion net worth in the bank.

It’s tough to know which products will end up making an impact, but it’s obvious that the better choice is usually the unique product. Looking at Hulk Hogan’s investment and endorsement choices, blenders, and even meatball makers (which almost was a thing), while serviceable products, weren’t exactly inventions that were setting the world on fire. However, an indoor grill that reduced fat and cooked tasty burgers in a few minutes- now that’s a radical idea! Of course, Foreman’s likeability and tireless work in promoting the grill over the years cannot be ignored. It’s amazing though to realize in hindsight that the best thing that ever happened to George Foreman is directly due to Hulk Hogan missing a phone call while on a school run over 15 years ago! 

Winner: George Foreman via TKO.

If losing out on $200+ million wasn’t bad enough, this article breaks down exactly how much Hulk Hogan lost out on due to a deal with Marvel in the ’80s.

As an additional bonus: Here’s a memorable fan review of Hulkster Cheeseburgers!

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JP Zarka
JP Zarka is a teacher, singer/songwriter, producer, former co-host of The Genius Cast with Lanny Poffo podcast, and editor-in-chief of ProWrestlingStories.com. Originally from Chicago, he has called London home for the past ten years. He can be reached on Twitter @jpzarka or @pws_official.