Posted by Nicci | Posted in Business and Finance, Other Stuff | Posted on 12-10-2011
Tags: As Seen On TV, Infomercials, Matthew Lesko
You’ve seen infomercial legend Matthew Lesko, bedecked in his question mark suit, telling consumers how to get free money from the government for more than a decade. Now, the Riddler look-alike is the subject of a short documentary film, “The Gospel According to Matthew.” In it, Lesko describes how he took the information used by big businesses such as Nike, Apple, and others, and brings it to individuals and small business owners, helping them get free governmental resources.
In Lesko’s As Seen On TV ads for his “free money” books, he wears his trademark suit and tells viewers that it is ridiculous to pay for something one can get for free:
This seems to be a theme in Lesko’s life. In “The Gospel According to Matthew,” he describes that his 1987 best seller Getting Yours was essentially written by the government–not by Lesko at all. He says, “My first New York Times bestseller was a book where I plagiarized the whole thing. Nothing in the government is copyrighted so I just want to the government printing office, bought the state book for $35 and cut and pasted. I took it to Penguin Viking and changed the titles of all the programs, went on the news shows and it became a New York Times bestseller and I didn’t write a lick.” Lesko says he provides the government’s own information to consumers who are looking for free resources.
Of course, Lesko is not without his critics. Because the information in his As Seen On TV finance books is readily available for free from the government, some criticize Lesko for selling the information. However, he feels that he has consolidated the information, making it easier for individuals to access. Though the information is available elsewhere, Lesko has done the research for consumers.
Lesko says that the government is “weird,” and points to things people can get for free–aside from cash or grants–from governmental agencies: retired drug dogs, horses, mules, Smokey the Bear or Woodsy the Owl costumes. He advises consumers looking for free government resources, “Don’t believe in ‘no’.” He says that if a consumer is told “no,” they are likely asking for it the wrong way.
Though others may criticize Lesko, calling him a “symbol for self-centered free-riders,” Lesko himself sees what he does as important. He says, “I don’t take myself seriously, but my work is serious.” Lesko began his search for free government resources as a consultant for Fortune 500 companies before deciding to take what he learned and bring the information to average citizens. He says, “I figured the fat cats were going to get it with or without me, so I wanted to educate normal people on the street what benefits are available to them.”
Watch a trailer for “The Gospel According to Matthew” below: