Gary Heavin was just a man. But he was a man with a big dream. He dreamed, like so many Americans, of running his own business. In his 20s, he opened up a chain of gyms, but they didn’t stay afloat. Things were so bad that he didn’t have any money, and just when he was down on his luck and out of cash, he was thrown in jail for failing to pay child support. While in jail, he became a born-again Christian, and, when he was freed, he founded a second line of gyms. He was able to make this chain work with his own blood, sweat, and tears. You may recognize the name: Curves. Even if you’ve never heard of it, you’ve probably seen the signs or ads. This gym chain was amazingly successful, and Mr. Heavin, having heaved himself up by his bootstraps, become a paragon of capitalism success stories.
Well…CPAC desperately wanted the crowd to believe that, anyway, when they brought him on board for a Friday afternoon panel called, “And Entrepreneurship Shall Set You Free: How to Celebrate Free Market Capitalism in the Popular Culture.” Donald Trump and Donald Trump’s hair piece were there, as well as a few unknown state legislators like Mike Hill, and a think tank fellow named Frank Smith – who founded and is the chairman for the Competitive Enterprise Institute (If the name of that think tank sounds familiar, you’ve read this piece about the CPAC 2014 Global Warming Denialism panel.)
Like any born-again Real True Christian™, he decided to donate large sums of money to an anti-Life, anti-Choice, pro-Forced Birth group. Now, Curves was founded as a gym for overweight women, and thus, intended as an expression of “grrl-power.” These two things – women’s liberation and anti-choice – they’re potassium and water, not peanut butter and jelly. As a result of this revelation, some of the franchises cut ties and he quickly found himself in financial trouble. His business tanking, Heavin, in the vein of true Wall Street Capitalists, turned to the government and floated a number of loans. These loans didn’t help, and the default rate for the franchises was 16%, the fourth highest in the country. The lawsuit floodgate was opened, and even though Heavin tried to market the brand, he failed, and was personally hit with a $20 million dollar lawsuit from former business associates who say that Heavin cheated them out of profits.
Finally, in 2012, he sold his failing business for an undisclosed sum of money. After that, he made the leap to the rubber chicken circuit, where he became a Paragon of Capitalism, standing with Libertarian Global Warming denialists, modern renditions of Green Eggs and Ham, and lunatics who believe that abortion is worse than slavery. Whether or not his status has improved is left to you, dear reader, to decide.
h/t Mother Jones