Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

Billy Mays — He Left the World Knowing He Sold It


I've interviewed the world's most famous athletes, but when Billy Mays walked in the room that day in Miami to do an interview for my infomercial documentary just a couple months ago, I was still starstruck.

I know, it sounds stupid.

But when you think about it, this man has appeared on television this year just as much as Tiger Woods. And just like the world's number one golfer, the infomercial king generated billions

Billy Mays

of dollars in business.

Like plenty of these athletes that turn out to be nice, everyday people, Billy Mays was as down to earth as could be.

And so when I heard that he died on Sunday, I felt as if a friend had passed away.

I only spent about two hours with Mays for my "As Seen On TV" special. Funny thing is, I think the people who never met him, who saw him pitch OrangeGlo or OxyClean or Mighty Putty -- whether they bought the pitch or not -- feel the same loss.

Although his greatest critics would have you believe he was just a screamer, the numbers told a different story: Companies felt like they needed him or they would fail, despite his hefty price tag.

After all, Mays did the impossible. He got us to buy something we sometimes never heard of in 30 seconds time.

Unfortunately, like many, we might only appreciate him now that he's gone. When we come to understand, ten years from now, that they'll never be a sure fire go-to-guy in the entire infomercial world than Mays.

"Life is a pitch and then you buy it" was a favorite line of Billy's. Billy, you left this world knowing we bought it — if it was coming from you.

Questions?  Comments?