Jared Fogle Inc.: The Business of Being Subway’s Star
For the past 15 years, the Zionsville resident has served as the weight-loss pitchman for Subway, a campaign that added billions of dollars of growth to the sandwich shop—now the largest fast-food chain in the world—and padded his own (appropriately healthy) bottom line.
On the eve of the Emmy Awards last fall, Jared Fogle mingled with nominees among olive trees on the rooftop terrace of a swanky West Hollywood venue overlooking Sunset Boulevard. In town for an Emmy-related Subway promotion, Fogle enjoyed the cocktail party along with a few hundred people from the cast and production crew of the hit History Channel miniseries Hatfields & McCoys.
At the end of the night, Kevin Costner, one of the series’ stars, approached Fogle, flashing a smile. “You’ve been riding this for a long time,” Costner said, in reference to Fogle’s fame after losing 245 pounds on a yearlong diet of veggie and turkey subs from a Bloomington Subway. “Good on you.” Fogle fished a $10 Subway gift card out of his pocket and handed it over to Costner, who seemed thrilled.
A long time indeed. This year marks Fogle’s 15th anniversary as the pitchman-in-chief for the world’s largest restaurant chain—a superlative his campaign as “The Subway Guy” helped create. In fact, earlier this year, Tony Pace, Subway’s marketing chief, estimated that the 35-year-old, who lives in Zionsville with his wife and son, accounted for one-third to one-half of Subway’s growth—we’re talking billions of dollars. And things haven’t slowed down for the hoagie huckster, either. He’s on the road 200 days a year, cutting commercials with winners from The Biggest Loser, fraternizing with Subway franchisees at their annual confab, and preaching his waist-shrinking message to schoolchildren across the country on behalf of the Jared Foundation, his Indianapolis-headquartered non-profit aimed at eliminating childhood obesity.
“The joke is, my dad always asks me, ‘When are you going to get a real job?’” Fogle says. “I’m like, ‘Hopefully not for a while.’ I love what I do.”
And the North Central High School and Indiana University alum still seems enamored with a life that includes meeting two U.S. presidents and hanging with Hollywood A-listers. “I’m just a kid from Indianapolis,” says Fogle. “I never expected to have any of this. I was just happy to lose the 245 pounds and keep the weight off. To have this as my job for the last 15 years, and have a chance to do these amazing things, is just a big bonus.”
Here, a look at the economics of Jared’s long Subway career championing a healthy lifestyle, generating even healthier profits for the brand—and himself.
Photos by Tony Valainis, unless provided by the AP
This article appeared in the November 2013 issue.