Foreman Grill: A $200m Mistake for Hulk Hogan!

The Foreman Grill – AKA "The Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine" – is a portable electrically heated grill promoted by former boxing champion George Foreman. The grill increased the heavyweight boxing legend’s net worth by $200 million. However, it was very nearly marketed under a different name. As far as lousy timing goes, Hulk Hogan has regretted this over the years!

The Foreman Grill, as it turns out, was a $200 millom mistake for Hulk Hogan!
As it turns out, the Foreman Grill was a $200 million mistake for Hulk Hogan!

Was the Original Foreman Grill Intended for Hulk Hogan?

Michael Boehm of Batavia, Illinois, created the concept for the grill. Boehm’s initial aim was to develop an indoor grill that would provide the novel advantage of cooking on both sides at the same time.

A second significant 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."

The fajita grill received very little interest despite being promoted at industry trade shows in the early ’90s.

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 Foreman Grill’s worldwide acclaim has resulted in sales of over 100 million in just over fifteen 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 to buy out the right to use his name.

Before that, he was paid roughly 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.

Foreman Grill - Originally Meant For Hulk Hogan?
Foreman Grill – Originally Meant For Hulk Hogan?

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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 he almost picked up the grill’s lucrative endorsement deal.

"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 evident 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 fascinating, though, to realize in hindsight that the best thing that ever happened to George Foreman is directly related to Hulk Hogan missing a phone call while on a school run over fifteen 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:

YouTube video

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JP Zarka founded Pro Wrestling Stories in 2015 and is the creative force behind the website as editor-in-chief. From 2018-19, he was the podcast host and producer for The Genius Cast with Lanny Poffo, brother of WWE legend Macho Man Randy Savage. His diverse career includes work as an elementary school teacher, assistant principal, and musician, notably as a singer-songwriter with the London-based band Sterling Avenue. Zarka has appeared on TV programs like “Autopsy: The Last Hours of” on Reelz (U.S.) and Channel 5 (U.K.) and has contributed research for programming on ITV and BBC.