20 People Who Got Stinking Rich Selling Poop
In 2013, San Francisco’s Public Works art house featured an art show called “I Poop You” in which all work was composed mainly of animal droppings. Art buyers spent roughly $3,500 per piece, including world maps and images of pop culture (poop culture?) icons like Che Guevera.
Most of us put a lot of time and energy into distancing ourselves from excrement. We don’t want to talk about it, see it or (ugh) touch it. We buy air fresheners, diapers, baby wipes, toilet paper, pooper scoopers, dog poop bags, bidets, cleaning supplies and other products to keep our world as feces-free as possible. We humans hate poop. That is, most of us do. But we discovered a very dirty little secret: If you dig deep enough, there’s a lot of money in the brown stuff. Here are twenty people who have made serious dollars off of dung. Getty Images He’s Jean-Luc Picard. He’s Professor Charles Xavier. He’s also Poop. The actor, who began his career with the Royal Shakespeare Company, took on another iconic role in 2017’s “The Emoji Movie.” Critics unanimously agreed that the movie was crap, but Stewart certainly sold his performance as the fan-favorite poo-moji. Stewart typically pulls in millions per film and reportedly took on this particular role because it was easy work for good money. Getty Images Bobby Edwards, the creator and CEO of the bathroom aid known as the Squatty Potty, created his multimillion dollar product because his mother was constipated. Like every good son Edwards wanted his mom to poop comfortably, so together the Edwards family created a toilet-hugging stool on which a defecator rests his or her feet to encourage a more natural position for doing one’s business. The product was featured on Shark Tank and is one of the most successful products in the show’s history. Getty Images Jeffrey, Neal, Daniel and Theron Harmon are the all-brothers advertising team behind two feculent viral ads. The first one, for air freshener Poo-pourri, featured a posh British woman chatting on the toilet. The second showcased a unicorn pooping rainbow ice cream with the assistance of her trusted Squatty Potty. The two videos have a combined nearly 80 million views on YouTube. The Harmon brothers describe themselves as farm boys from Idaho who grew up poor, and their viral fame boosted their career and their wallets. Getty Images Due to pandas’ terrible digestive systems, their poop is full of fiber and nutrients. So naturally, someone decided to collect it, use it to make a healthy drink and get rich doing it. An Yashi, a wildlife expert and professor at Sinchuan University in Chengdu, China, collects the excrement from a panda breeding center and fertilizes his tea plants with it. He then sells his “panda dung tea” for $35,000 a pound. A single cup goes for about $210. Getty Images While strolling along a beach in South Australia, Loralee and Leon Wright stumbled on an unidentifiable lump that looked almost like a tree stump. Lucky for the Wrights, the 32-pound lump wasn’t a rock or a tree stump, it was ambergris, a substance produced in a whale’s intestines that helps the animal pass sharp objects. After being expelled, it hardens and develops an earthy musk that’s—surprise!—in high demand in the perfume industry. How in-demand? Loralee and Leon Wright’s 32-pound chunk of ambergris was worth almost $300,000. Getty Images In 1988, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told New York City it could no longer dump its sewage in the ocean. This was great news for everyone in the world—except for NYC, which then had to figure out a new way to get rid of 1,100 tons of human waste per day. With nowhere to sling their poo, NYC government leaders decided to turn their feces into fertilizer. After the EPA gave the go ahead, the city packed its sewage into trains and sent it off to Colorado, where it helped crops flourish. At the height of the New York Poop Train’s reign, 10,000 acres a year were being fertilized with New Yorkers’ manure. Getty Images The makers of cult game Cards Against Humanity pulled a stunt in 2014 in which they sold boxes of actual feces on Black Friday. They simply put boxes of bull excrement up for sale, called it “Bullsh*t by Cards Against Humanity,” and people bought it. For the low price of $6, the company sent buyers a box of actual cow patties, along with an enamel poop emoji pin. Thirty thousand people handed over their cash, and the gimmick brought in $180,000. Getty Images The aptly named Poop Senders company sends poop to people you don’t like. Unlike the Cards Against Humanity dung sale, Poop Senders ships the excrement anonymously, to the extent that you can mail them cash to prevent a paper trail. They’ve been in business for over a decade sending out cow, elephant or gorilla poop by the quart, gallon or $88.95 “mega pack.” Don’t worry, their website assures us this is all totally legal and normal. Getty Images Michael and Tun Flancman are the creators of Poopoo Paper, an extensive collection of recycled paper products made from feces. Michael was intrigued after meeting a man in Thailand who made products from elephant dung and started making paper from the waste of other animals with fibrous diets. The company exploded, quickly earning seven figures in revenue; their website now boasts products made from the manure of elephants, cows, moose and other animals. Getty Images Long before New York City started its poop train, the Wisconsin city of Milwaukee founded Milorganite, a company that takes the tons of sewage produced by its residents and turns it into fertilizer. They also take advantage of the energy-dense (but stinky) methane gas produced during the making of the product to power their manufacturing machinery. Getty Images Guano, a lovely combo of seabird excrement and bat poop, is rich in nitrogen, phosphate and potassium. These nutrients make guano prime material for fertilizer and sometimes gunpowder. Back in the 19th century, guano was in extremely high demand, spurring people to flock to islands where birds congregate to mine the dung. This led to the beginnings of early U.S. colonization, which eventually made a whole lot of people rich, for better or worse. Getty Images In 2013, San Francisco’s Public Works art house featured an art show called “I Poop You” in which all work was composed mainly of animal droppings. Art buyers spent roughly $3,500 per piece, including world maps and images of pop culture (poop culture?) icons like Che Guevera. Getty Images A civet is a medium-sized raccoon like mammal native to South and Southeast Asia that likes to eat the fruit of coffee plants. (You can probably see where this is going.) Civet coffee, also known as kopi luwak, is java brewed from partially digested coffee cherries dug out of the feces of the Asian palm civet. Considered one of the most expensive coffees in the world, kopi luwak can cost up to $500 a pound. Getty Images In 2010, a Knoxville-based firm called BioPet Vet Lab released the delightfully named PooPrints testing kit, which detects DNA from dog droppings. PooPrints markets itself to apartment managers who are sick of dealing with residents who don’t pick up after their dogs. Renters with pups are required to register their dogs’ DNA, and then any stray droppings are tested for a match. If a match is found, the rogue resident is fined. PooPrints is in use in over 3,000 complexes across the US and the company is expanding internationally. Getty Images In 1958, a team of surgeons treated a group of critically ill patients with the first fecal transplants, which involved transferring waste from healthy people into sick patients’ colons via enema. The healthy bacteria in the transplanted poo helped cure the infections that were plaguing the sick folks. Over the years, fecal transplants have become common and are proven to be a highly efficient method for curing stubborn intestinal infections. Getty Images It’s hard to leave the house without running into the poop emoji. Wherever you go you find that pile of dung staring back at you like a happy swirl of chocolate ice cream. Although Apple has a copyright on its specific smiling poo emoji, there’s nothing stopping companies from drawing up their own friendly-faced poo and sticking it on pajama pants, socks, stickers, pillows, and uncountable other pieces of merchandise that consumers keep buying and wearing with undeserved pride. Getty Images Another refreshing but stupidly expensive beverage made with the help of animal droppings is a Japanese beer called “Un, Kono Kuro” (which translates roughly to “sh*t black”). Going for $1,100 a keg, Un, Kono Kuro is made with the addition of coffee beans that have been “processed” by an elephant’s digestive tract. Of course, the manufacturers aren’t pocketing all that money, since the cost of elephant upkeep is no doubt enormous. Getty Images MGA Entertainment is the toy company behind the “Poopsie Surprise” line of toys. The line includes ingredients for making sparkly unicorn poop and an alarming number of best-selling poop-centric toys, including the Poopsie Rainbow Slime Kit and a Poopsie Pooey Puitton (that rhymes with Louis Vuitton) purse that retails for $59.99. Getty Images Remember those fecal transplants we talked about? At least one stool bank, a non-profit called OpenBiome, will pay healthy people for their number twos. The stool is frozen, processed and then used for fecal transplants. At $40 a donation you could earn up to $13,000 a year selling your daily bowel movement—maybe more if you’re exceptionally “productive.” Getty Images