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The Amway logo
Drink the Kool-Aid
RW Cult Template.png
But you WANT to stay!
Cults of personality
I, the crown prince of Nigeria, offer you
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Hook, line, and sinker
Totally sounds legit!

Amway (which now goes by the more ominous name Amway Global, or as "Scamway" by its detractors[1][2][3]) is a multilevel marketing scheme based on selling laundry detergent and other household cleaners, mostly to yourself, and on helping your "upline" make a lot of money by buying tapes of motivational speeches from them. (Critics would call it a pyramid scheme, which Amway claims not to be, pointing to a 1979 Federal Trade Commission ruling.)


Participants in the Amwayverse are often subject to highly authoritarian social pressures to conform to a specific model of social conservatism as well as extreme loyalty to the upline and to Amway, a situation which has led to accusations of Amway being a cult.[4][5]

Amway claims to be non-religious and non-political, but Amway gatherings often take on the tone of a religious revival meeting, with frequent promotion of religious right politics and Christianity mixed in with the business and motivational speeches. Its founders, Jay Van AndelWikipedia and Richard DeVos,Wikipedia were both hard-boiled Calvinist believers and heavy funders of Republican Party politicians and religious right causes including anti-abortion and intelligent design.[note 1]

Some independent Amway distributors were repeatedly implicated in the spread of rumors that rival company Procter and Gamble (maker of Tide and other laundry detergents) was involved in Satanism, pointing to P&G's moon-and-stars service mark as "proof". In March 2007, Procter and Gamble was awarded $19.25 million in damages in a lawsuit filed in Salt Lake City against four Amway distributors. Amway would later release its own 'Satinique' line of hair care products, apparently oblivious to the irony[6] (though in fairness, there's a big difference between satin and satan).

Faced with increasing competition from the Internet, Amway launched Quixtar circa 2000-01 which is essentially an online version of Amway. Quixtar and Amway are the same company, different brand names used by a single holding company, Alticor, based in Michigan. Most Amway distributors are further independently organized into their own business organizations with names like World Wide Dream Builders, Network Twenty-One, Britt World Wide, and InterNet Services. Many Amway "business opportunity" meetings to attract newcomers into the business may be represented only under the name of the independent sub-group with any mention of "Amway" or "Quixtar" soft-pedaled or omitted, a somewhat sketchy practice reflecting the bad reputation that Amway has earned over the years (one could argue that the "Quixtar" and "Alticor" names are symptoms of the same thing).

The business organizations are the primary source of the most odious aspects of the Amway business (though nobody sincerely believes that the Amway corporation doesn't condone their behavior); these groups represent powerful uplines such as Bill Britt and Dexter Yager and, along with aggressive recruiting tactics (complete with recruiting presentations long on greed and short on product), are particularly known for what is euphemistically called the "tools" business, where distributors are encouraged to buy motivational tapes and CDs and attend regional and national functions, as well as to adopt a "fake it till you make it"[note 2] lifestyle that often drives the distributor deep into debt. Though the "tools" business in its existing form is illegal, it is generally tolerated by Amway itself and has not been seriously challenged by government regulators.

Where the money really goes[edit]

Many of Amway's richest stockholders have used their wealth to fund extreme right wing causes and businesses.[8] Among those who have benefited from Amway's largess are Focus on the Family and Blackwater, USA.[9]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. DeVos's son Dick, current head of the Amway corporation, ran in 2006 for governor of Michigan; a testimony of the sad facts of life in Michigan is that although Governor Jennifer Granholm (D) won re-election, DeVos still polled quite strongly in a year when the tide was going against Republicans nationally.
  2. The phrase "fake it till you make it" was popularized by Glenn W. Turner,Wikipedia a Florida-based conman who ran multilevel marketing and pyramid schemes.[7]