Betting on Zero: Herbalife, a major pyramid scam scheme?

Betting on Zero is a 2016 American documentary directed by Ted Braun. It investigates the allegation that Herbalife is a pyramid scheme, and follows Bill Ackman’s short investment in Herbalife, which is ostensibly a billion-dollar bet that the company will soon collapse.It reveals the ugly side of Herbalife and also other pyramids schemes…

It’s saddening that it hurts the poor and the Hispanic immigrants in the US who believe they can accomplish the American dream but at the end they end up being lied.

FR/Ce documentaire explore le fonctionnement nébuleux d’Herbalife, une société spécialisée dans les compléments alimentaires accusée de pratiquer la vente pyramidale. lien en français: NETFLIX

From ‘Darfur Now’ writer/director Ted Braun comes a riveting docu-thriller following controversial hedge fund titan Bill Ackman as he puts a billion dollars on the line in his crusade to expose Herbalife as the largest pyramid scheme in history. Herbalife claims Ackman is simply a market manipulator out to make a fortune from short-selling their stock, but Ackman insists Herbalife deliberately targets low-income and immigrant communities and robs them of their life savings. Herbalife is joined on the counterattack by longtime Ackman nemesis (and fellow Wall Street billionaire) Carl Icahn, while Ackman finds an unlikely ally in Chicago activist Julie Contreras, who rallies the Latino community to get the Federal government to intervene. Blending tales of high-stakes corporate intrigue with working-class people caught in the crossfire, Braun paints a stirring picture of the American Dream gone wrong. bettingonzeromovie.com

The documentary follows billionaire hedge fund titan Bill Ackman and several former Herbalife distributors after Ackman takes a billion dollar short position in Herbalife, alleging it is a pyramid scheme destined to collapse. The film also chronicles Ackman’s feuds with Herbalife CEO Michael Johnson and investor Carl Icahn, and the resulting controversy over both the short and Herbalife’s business practices.

The film, Betting on Zero, asked if the company was a vast that bilked hundreds of thousands of poor, vulnerable people in the US and across the world. The company maintains its direct sales model has been misunderstood.

In many MLMs, high-pressured salespeople convince participants to join in, dangling riches before their eyes as they’re led to make big, upfront purchases of pricey products, then try to recruit others under them to do the same in the hopes of earning big commissions. At Herbalife, the costs of renting space for recruiting venues known as nutrition clubs, along with fat fees for “university” classes and pep-rally conferences known as “extravaganzas,” make it even harder for salespeople to make a profit as a saturated market becomes almost impenetrable. Last year, the top 1 percent of Herbalife’s 545,160 so-called “members” in the U.S. made almost 90 percent of the earnings—and that group rarely lets in new names.

According to the Guardian, even before the film premiered at New York’s Tribeca film festival, a well-connected Democratic lobbyist tweeted that the film was funded by a Wall Street vulture who had staked a billion dollars on Herbalife’s demise.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigated and in July 2016 found that Herbalife had cheated salespeople. The company would have to restructure and “start operating legitimately”, said the regulator’s chairwoman, Edith Ramirez. Herbalife agreed to pay a $200m fine.

Health issues:

According to the link http://journals.sagepub.com/ after some talk from customers who said that Herbalife products are highly processed and contain undesirable ingredients, some potential side effects are:

  • Hepatotoxicity (liver injury)
  • Nutritional deficiency
  • Allergic reactions
  • High blood pressure
  • Hypertension
  • Herbalife and Liver Injury

The consensus among nutrition professionals have been that some Herbalife merchandise can actually cause liver damage in some people. If you have an allergy or medical condition, you should definitely be careful about taking Herbalife supplements on a regular basis, as it could lead to nutritional deficiency and liver injury.

According to the customers there is a lot of talk about allergies and intolerance to the soy and dairy in many of the products. This could be an issue for customers, especially when they are relying on a “distributor” for information about the product.

What we can notice is that Herbalife site lists an impressive number of ‘Nutrition Advisory Board’ members, all of whom are doctors. You must be aware of the fact that just because someone has an MD after their name doesn’t mean they know much about nutrition. And just because someone is paid to be on an ‘Advisory Board’ doesn’t mean that they fully support the product. There are fully competent, intelligent dietitians who advise food companies like Pepsico about marketing and products but don’t necessarily recommend the product to their clients. If a company asks me my opinion on a product, that can automatically qualify me for the ‘Advisory Board’. So yeah, there’s that.


Anonymous opinions:1.Herbalife the scam that refuses to die, and wont do, as long as there is stupid people out there, no matter how many times this Pyramid scheme is fined by the Courts or exposed by the Media, there is always more stupid people out there it seems, with money to lose. All you need to do is find gullible people, who are looking for get rich schemes. The ideal candidate seems to be fat middle aged housewives, lonely and feeling depressed, easy sell, by Con Artists who pretend to be their friend, you know the rest, the Con Artists make money, the schmuck looses money and friends, nothing will make you loose friends and money quicker than a Pyramid Selling scheme. If you read this and think it is about you, IT IS, don’t be a numpty, HERBAL LIFE IS A FRAUD, do Juice Plus too and lose money twice as fast.

2.Herbalife is your run of the mill scam disguised as healthy living.
Unfortunately, they by no means sell the best nutrition products and they don’t even come close.
The awful ingredients below in most products – poor quality too
Processed soya
Hydrogenated oils
High processed

These products contain the artificial sweetener, sucralose, also known as Splenda.
No. Sucralose is not a natural product – it is not found in nature. Although sucralose is made from sugar, the sugar molecule is chemically modified to make sucralose which is classed as an artificial sweetener.

As for the food recommended by Herbalife, they miss the mark again. While it’s nice that they advocate fruit and vegetable consumption (I mean, who doesn’t?) they also advocate highly processed low-fat foods that are devoid of nutrients. Yet again, processed soy rears its ugly head in their breakfast burrito recipe. They do make their own food that people can buy. Like their creamy chicken soup:

Canola oil is one of the largest GMO crops and is likely genetically modified in herbalife products. It is a rancid industrial oil that undergoes an unbelieable amount of processing. It is extracted with hexane, a neurotoxin, then bleached, deodorized and a slew of other disgusting techniques.
Carageenan is a processed food additive made from seaweed that has been shown to cause cancer in lab rats, induce colitis, exacerbate ulcers and is overall terrible for the digestive tract

Overall Herbalife products are not only unhealthy, but promote disease. I mean really, I can’t even count the ingredients in the junk above. Among them are hydrogenated soy, canola and cottonseed oils, margarine, autolyzed yeast extract (also known as MSG), artificial flavors, wheat protein and corn syrup. This is not food. This is not healthy.

While Herbalife may be an effective weight loss tool, it is not a safe or healthy nutrition regimen. There are better ways to lose weight and you should not sacrifice your health to accomplish that. In the same regard, it is also not the ideal product to put on muscle or use for bulking. There are healthier options, starting with eating real, unrefined food grown locally, organically and sustainably.

3.Well Herbalife back in the news again… I have been off Herbalife for month now and have put more muscle on and lose more body fat then when I was on it… You don’t need to fall to the scam that Herbalife is… They will brain wash you thinking you need spend all this money… Also 99.9% of people who sell Herbalife say they can give u fitness tips when 99.9% of them don’t even have personal trainer certifications… If you wanna lose weight and put on muscle Herbalife is not the way… Just eat right, drink lots water, excercise and it will happen..

It isn’t a dramatization. It’s a hard news documentary. And its message is all the more visceral because this fight that riveted Wall Street in 2014-15 is not only real – it’s still ongoing.” –Blouinartinfo.com

“Herbalife Exposé Will Hit Theaters in March” Bloomberg

“Ackman-Herbalife Battle to Hit Big Screen With Distribution Deal” Bloomberg

“The Activist and Herbalife: Just Maybe Ackman’s Right” New York Times

“Filmmaker says lobbying firm tried to ‘thwart’ screening of documentary” Washington Post

“The Herbalife Saga Is ‘Far From Over'” Yahoo Finance

Watch Betting On Zero director Ted Braun’s 4/15/16 interview on Bloomberg TV.

Watch Ted Braun’s 4/15/16 interview on CNBC.

“Tribeca Fest: ‘Betting On Zero’ stirs Herbalife waters” LA Times

“Lights, Camera, Ackman: Herbalife On The Big Screen” Wall Street Journal

“Ackman-Herbalife Feud Gets Fresh Scrutiny at TriBeCa Film Fest” Bloomberg.com

3 thoughts on “Betting on Zero: Herbalife, a major pyramid scam scheme?”

    1. Hello sha-tara i did it also for 3-4 months i just started it for my body balance but then they push you for more and more… phone calls every day and meetings and most of all you can find better quality in cheaper products. I use my supermarket and i’m happy now 🙂


      1. Me too. I’m vegetarian and find everything I need between three stores and the local pharmacy.
        (J’aimerais bien répondre en francais mais c’est difficile avec mon système! Le lire n’est pas un problème! Intéressant, je ne trouve pas de cédille ici!)

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