Martha Stewart: Celebrity Pariah
Martha came from humble beginnings to form a home goods empire, blah blah blah. That part is truly boring. It's just your typical entrepreneur story - trust me, you're not missing anything. Let's skip ahead to modern times. Being filthy rich as she was, she wisely invested some of her money in stocks, and had the misfortune of buying into the doomed medical company ImClone. One day Martha got a phone call from a friend, tipping her off that ImClone was going to tank pretty soon, and if she didn't want to lose a truckload of money, she'd sell her stock real quick. Now, at this point, she had two choices, one legal and one illegal:
A) "I've just received information that a company I've invested in is going down the toilet. I'd better sell my stock so I don't lose money."
B) "I've just received information that a company I've invested in is going down the toilet. Even so, I'm not going to sell my stock because profiting from insider information is wrong."
Now, call me crazy, but which one would you pick? The truly unfair part is that simply by virtue of the fact that this person told her this information she is guilty of receiving insider information and subject to a criminal investigation. You can't control the gossip you receive, only the gossip you tell. Some detractors argue that this is probably not a case of an innocent bystander, and her true conviction was of lying about her stock trade, but let's be fair, folks. If you heard your investment was about to fail, you'd drop it like a hot potato.
Instead of whining about her misfortune, however, Martha has brilliantly parlayed her prison sentence into a celebrity cash cow. From the minute she reentered our airspace in that homemade poncho she had the attention of all media, and is now using that attention to launch not one, not two, but four side projects, including: a Trump-esque Apprenice spinoff, a radio station on Sirius Sattelite Radio, an appearance on an MTV show and her very own daytime talk show. What a busy bee! Whether or not she'll actually achieve commercial success, considering the failure of her K-Mart empire and absence from the airwaves for a considerable period of time, remains to be seen. In the meanwhile, chin up, Martha. You really know how to turn lemons into lemonade.