When it comes to fame and notoriety, Elizabeth Holmes, the former CEO of Theranos, has clearly taken over the market.
Internet sellers have been cashing in on mugs, T-shirts and even shower curtains in the weeks before her criminal fraud trial began in August.
One of the more unique items is what is billed as an authentic Theranos Lab Coat listed for $17,000.
Holmes, once a Silicon Valley darling, is facing federal wire fraud and wire fraud charges in connection with allegedly defrauding investors, patients and doctors about her company’s blood testing technology.
Yet customers are reporting their purchase of their product on social media.
In one TikTok, a young woman is seen posing in a mirror wearing a pink T-shirt that reads “Elizabeth Holmes is my #GirlBoss.”
Another TikToker shows a mug featuring Holmes on one side and Theranos on the other. “I really wish Elizabeth Holmes had an MLM so I could get into it,” she says. An MLM is a controversial multilevel marketing operation that the US Federal Trade Commission warns may be a pyramid scheme.
And another removes a T-shirt from a package, declaring: “It’s all here. Queen Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos.”
Searches on Instagram and Twitter also showed customers posing with their merchandise.
Holmes, who is pregnant and due due next month, could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Before the fall of Theranos, her image seemed to be everywhere, even landing her on the cover of Forbes.
Today, her brand is clearly still popular, despite a bad reputation and an ensuing 13-week long trial.
“It doesn’t surprise me, Elizabeth Holmes was a very inspiring person,” says Marc Macias, founder of Macias PR. “She was the youngest female billionaire, self-made entrepreneur and even though we learned it was allegedly fraud – she sold something that was revolutionary.”
Anthony, the owner of Etsy shop “Finance Memes,” says sales of Homes-related merchandise have picked up since February. Anthony told CNBC not to use his last name for fear of jeopardizing his employment.
“You see it with Wall Street bets – people like to talk about how much they’ve lost,” Anthony said. “There’s a passion for cheating, gambling, and taking bad risks. Everyone loves a good villain.”
Anthony says a mug that says “Theranos Early Investor” is the most popular item in his Etsy shop. “It’s a little more low-key, so you can keep it in your drawer when your boss walks by.” Anthony says he’s been on the mug more than 200 times over the past few months.
“There are always marginalized people who want to express themselves, take over the establishment and point a finger at them,” Macias said. Still, he cautions, “It’s better to be famous if you want a long-lasting brand. Less is notoriety, it can ruin and destroy a brand. “
For Holmes, whatever image she presents is everlasting.
As James Surovicki, a columnist for MSNBC, wrote in a recent piece, “On the way up and down, one thing remains constant about Elizabeth Holmes: People are fascinated by her.”
Credit: www.nbcnews.com /