John Peterson, 58, was the poster-boy for the Herbalife “multi-level marketing” philosophy. Recruiting other sales reps which helped to be for his extravagant lifestyle of private jets, beaches houses in Mexico and a trophy wife. It’s these facts that make his apparent suicide on Sunday night all the more confusing. Peterson was found dead of a self-inflicted gun-wound on August 19, reports The New York Post.
Here’s what you need to know…
1. He Was Found Dead Close to His Colorado Ranch
A personal salute to John Peterson an achiever who lived the dream. R.I.P. #Herbalife
— Jeffrey Powers (@jeffreypowers1) August 20, 2013
The sales demi-God was found dead in his 2008 Ford pickup truck that was parked near his ranch in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Undersheriff Ray Birch confirmed that his death was caused by a self-inflicted gun-shot wound.
2. Peterson Earned $3 Million in 2012
He joined Herbalife in the 1980s when his real-estate career stalled. Of the company’s estimated 3.2 million sales reps, only Peterson and a few others have made it to the holy grail of the “Founder’s Circle.”
The Post reports:
Last year, Peterson earned an estimated $3 million, according to an independent ranking. He was named Herbalife’s top distributor of the year 10 times.
Peterson boasted of owning a Wyoming cattle ranch and homes in Brazil and in a private beach club in Mexico, in addition to his residence in Colorado.
3. Peterson Was the Face of Herbalife Recruitment
In a video designed to recruit more sales people, Peterson bragged about his success. He tells the audience:
Build your own lifestyle; create the life you want.
He also claims in the video that he had “200,000” people working under him.
4. Peterson Was at the Center of Herbalife’s Suspicious Business Practices
Herbalife became a family business for Peterson, with his first-wife Susan alongside him during his rise to fame. The couple successfully branched into sourcing sales reps through a third-party company, the company was called Work from Home Inc. The Federal Trade Commission told Herbalife and their salesforce in April that they had to stop using this service to source potential recruits by June 30 2013.
Company shareholder Bill Ackman had spoken about the practices of Herbalife, claiming the company was a “pyramid scheme.” Ackman has been one of Herbalife’s biggest critics, reports Forbes.
Peterson and his wife successfully brought the business to Mexico where Herbalife has thrived.
Peterson’s tragic death was announced to Herbalife employees in a memo, it read that he:
…passed away suddenly, following a tragic accident at his home.
The company have said that they don’t comment on family matters such as this.
5. Peterson Had Recruited His Family into Herbalife
Both of Peterson’s children, John and Jennifer, list their jobs as “Independent Distributor at HERBALIFE INTERNATIONAL.”