Wednesday, March 14, 2001

Disclaimer

Jared Fogle, the Subway diet spokesperson, speaks out.

Posted By on Wed, Mar 14, 2001 at 4:00 AM

We regularly see actors on commercials claiming to have had their migraines, diarrhea, psoriasis, hemorrhoids, halitosis, depression, colds, and flatulence cured by some new and/or improved miracle potion that is up to 10 percent more effective than the other leading brand, the liquid or capsule answer to a visit from Glenda the Good Witch. We don't know what these performers actually promote once the cameras have stopped rolling, nor can we be sure they actually suffer these accursed ailments. We see Britney Spears hawking Pepsi, though (at least according to official request documents obtained by the Web site The Smoking Gun) she requires that a number of Coca- Cola products be available backstage at her shows. It's a mixed-up muddled-up shook-up world out there in TV land, where money puts words into the mouths of influential people, celebs, jocks, nameless ravishing beauties, and unknown comics; words that might never have been there without significant financial remuneration.

And then there is Jared Fogle. He's the once-morbidly-bese, now- thin-and-ultra-chipper spokesman for Subway Sandwiches' low-fat menu. He claims to have lost 245 pounds -- over half his body weight -- by walking and eating nothing but a steady diet of Subway sandwiches and baked potato chips. It sounds like just another marketing ploy cooked up around a conference table by smartly appointed advertising types in black outfits and chunky designer eyewear. But no. Before he started munching chicken and veggie-sandwiches Fogle really did weigh nearly half a metric ton. Now he's long and gangly. Thanks to a combination of fortitude and good fortune Fogle is the rarest of TV spokespersons: He's the real-meal deal.

Fogle stopped in Memphis recently during a promo tour for Subway.

Flyer: Did you set out on this diet hoping to become the TV spokesperson for Subway?

Jared Fogle: Halfway through the diet, around the fall of 1998, my mom wrote a letter to Subway. Never got a response. Maybe the letter got lost in the mail, I don't know, but it never got a response. I didn't think Subway was going to care anyway and that just reinforced it for me. But that was okay because I was doing this for me.

You stress the importance of walking as part of your weight- loss program. How far away did you live from Subway?

I actually shared a wall with them. They were right next door. Obviously I was eating a lot of Subway as it was, just not the low-fat. I was eating the steak-and-cheese and the meatball and stuff like that.

So you didn't get the exercise actually walking to Subway?

No.

Good thing they didn't put in a Pizza Hut or something.

Yeah.

So how did you eventually hook up with Subway?

A friend of mine who wrote for [the Indiana University] newspaper wrote a story about me. He hadn't seen me for eight or nine months, so I was close to the end of the diet, and he didn't recognize me. This happened all the time -- people I knew wouldn't recognize me because it was such a dramatic weight loss. Anyway he thought it was the neatest thing and wanted to write a story about it. That got everything snowballing. They are a big enough paper that the story went out over the AP wire and got picked up all around the country: Portland, Oregon, San Diego, Boston. Shortly after that I got a call from Subway's national advertising agency.

Do you still eat only at Subway?

I don't. I mean I eat at Subway a couple of times a week, but I've had the weight off for two years now. When I'm going to have fast food I eat there, because I don't like the grease or the heaviness of your typical fast food. But I eat what I want now; I just don't eat the quantities.

Now for a math question. Let's say I want to lose 50 pounds by walking to and eating at Subway three times a day. I live five miles from Subway, but only work five blocks from Subway. How long before I lose the 50 pounds?

That's the frustrating part. I don't say to go out and do exactly what I did. For some people it might not take any time at all; but for some people it could cause more problems than it helps. You need to talk to a doctor first because your body could react badly to it.

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