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.