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Entrepreneur Gregg Miller is fed up with the government shutdown, so he is sending every Republican senator and the vice president a pair of testicular canine implants.
Yes, fake dog balls. And he swears it's not a stunt.
"As God is my witness on my mother's grave, so help me almighty God, it has nothing to do with being a publicity stunt," Miller said.
His protest is just one example of how businesses big and small are trying to get in the shutdown fray. Shutdown-themed merchandise has flooded online stores like Cafe Press, while corporations such as Kraft Heinz have sought to leverage their brands to help struggling government workers. About 800,000 federal employees are going without pay as the shutdown drags on.
Miller is the founder of Neuticles, which is based in Oak Grove, Missouri, and sells testicular implants for neutered dogs. He has sold over a half million pairs — or one million balls— over the past 25 years. Miller invented the product after his bloodhound, Buck, was neutered. He wanted Buck to maintain his "God-given look," and Miller believed more people would be willing to neuter their pets if they had a product to make their pets look whole.
He was right. Neuticles has made him a millionaire.
Now, the businessman has angrily turned his attention to Washington, D.C, where lawmakers and President Donald Trump are at odds over whether to fund the construction of a wall on the southern border. Trump has refused to sign any bill that lacks wall funding, while Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have said they won't approve a measure with money for a barrier.
Miller admits he does not like Trump, even calling him a "madman." As the shutdown has dragged on – it entered its 34th day Thursday – he is preparing to send his product to all 53 Senate Republicans, plus Vice President Mike Pence, with the message: 'We are demanding that you gain testicular fortitude and have enclosed a pair of Neuticles to help achieve the necessity to stand up against the sole interests of this rogue president."
"My intention and actions on this isn't necessarily based on the shutdown that Trump created," Miller said, "but I'm looking ahead because impeachment is imminent." (Any impeachment trial to remove Trump from office would happen in the Senate, but there are no signs, in fact, that impeachment is imminent.)
Other businesses are getting mixed up in shutdown politics, too.
Shutdown merchandise is hitting the online market, although it's not clear how well it is selling. Cafe Press provided a list of new designs to CNBC, but it did not release sales figures. "I survived the Trump shutdown and all I got was a crappy t-shirt," reads one design. Another says: "Bros before furloughs."
CNBC reached out to a website called UncleSamShirt about a shutdown tee it's selling which caricatures the president's hairstyle. "Not sell much," was the reply.
Kraft, meanwhile, created a pop-up store in Washington for four days last week to provide unpaid government workers free Kraft Mac & Cheese, salad dressing, cheese, mayonnaise and barbecue sauce. "Kraft stands for families and we want to support the families who have built our brands," the company said in a statement.
The story got a lot of positive press coverage, including the Today Show.
That free publicity could far outweigh the cost of the food. C3 Metrics, which measures the impact of advertising, estimates Kraft received hundreds of thousands of dollars of free media with the pop-up store, but adds that the number could have been worth tens of millions if the company had added more products "like Planters, Oscar Mayer, Lunchables ... more substantial than mac & cheese."
Neuticles' Miller said he truly doesn't care about the cost of sending dozens of fake dog testicles to the Senate, though he said it does add up to a little over $13,000. He insists this isn't for PR purposes, and, in fact, acknowledges that it could hurt business. He said he already parted ways with his veterinarian over politics, and he got grief after swapping out Neuticles billboards with pro-Democrat messages during the election. (Yes, there are seven billboards along I-70 promoting canine testicular implants.)
"Do you think, in fact, I'm risking more than anything?" Miller asked. "An adamant Trump supporter, do you think they're gonna buy Neuticles? They'll say, 'To hell with him.'"
Miller isn't even sure he'll change a single senator's mind.
"I just want them to get some damn balls and think of America, not their political party," he said.