‘Shark Tank:’ Kevin O’Leary Tweets Response to Lori Greiner’s Comments on ‘Chauvinistic’ Contestant
Waters were choppy on the latest episode of Shark Tank. Millionaire investor Lori Greiner made headlines when she called out a contestant for acting ‘chauvinistic’ by ignoring her questions and not making eye contact.
The entrepreneur ended up striking a deal with Kevin O’Leary, prompting ‘Mr. Wonderful‘ (as he is also known) to make some clarifications on Twitter regarding his support of women being treated equally.
Made a bad impression on Greiner
According to People, physician Sarath Malepati entered the tank asking for an investment on his invention, EZC Pak, a five-day immune support pack made of echinacea, zinc and vitamin C that he claims can boost the immune system and fight viruses.
Cuban, who is usually a skeptic on products that make grandiose promises, was quickly critical of the item. As the pitch continued, Greiner started questioning his behavior towards her as the only female in the tank. “You are kind of looking at me funny. Do you agree with what I am saying or no?” she asked.
At one point when Greiner was speaking, Malepati interrupted her to speak to the other sharks, who are all male. “Well, wait a minute, why are you ignoring what I am saying?” Greiner asked Malepati. “That’s odd to me. I’m talking to you and you are looking over at Mark. And I’m telling you I’m into it.”
When the entrepreneur continued to address Cuban, Greiner cut him off. “Wait a minute. You know what, I’m just gonna finish,” she said, clearly aggravated by the disrespectful actions. “I was the customer, I’ve been taking zinc for years, I’m a believer in this, I’m the one talking about antibiotic resistance and how important it is. But the fact that when I am talking to you, you don’t even look at me, I’m out.” Though Malepati apologized, Greiner added, “I am offended. I feel like you don’t respect me as a female sitting here.”
Calling out Mr. Wonderful
Greiner posted several tweets about the episode, explaining her point of view. “First he didn’t look at me and then he ignored me… twice. That’s why I said something. RT if this has happened to you #chauvinism #SharkTank,” she wrote. Many women responded in agreement on Twitter.
She allowed for the possibility that the entrepreneur was flustered by Cuban’s criticisms, but still maintained that his attitude toward her was inexcusable. “Maybe he didn’t mean it and Mark threw him off, but I’m a firm believer in speaking up, in a respectful way, when something is not right,” she tweeted.
With O’Leary deciding to grant the entrepreneur an investment after the the obvious snub of Greiner, the Queen of QVC called out Mr. Wonderful on Twitter. “You say you’re one w/ women & support women @kevinoleary but #WalkTheWalkDontTalkTheTalk #SharkTank,” she stated.
Mr. Wonderful did not fully agree with Greiner’s impression of Malepati, tweeting, “That was such a tense pitch to be a part of. I’ve met Sarath and am confident he had no intentions of slighting anyone in the tank. #ezcpak #sharktank.”
O’Leary is actually a strong proponent of women-owned businesses, saying he gets his best return on investment from female entrepreneurs. “I’ve been investing now for over 10 years on things for Shark Tank deals — and other deals that are brought to me because of Shark Tank — and the majority of my returns come from the companies run by women. Now this isn’t some kind of academic research, this is real data. This is real money coming back to me,” O’Leary told CNBC Make It.
Though he didn’t feel Malepati meant any disrespect to Greiner, he agreed that women in business are often not treated equally. “I’ve also worked for, partnered with, and invested in women all my life and I’ve seen firsthand how much harder they often have to work to be heard,” he tweeted, adding that he empathizes with Greiner’s point. “I do understand where @LoriGreiner was coming from because I’ve seen executives be ignored by men in the boardroom before they realize they’re talking to the VP!,” he wrote.
The ‘wonderful’ Shark Tank star also posted a written apology from Malepati, along with his own caption. “I know this wasn’t @sarathmalepati‘s intention,” O’Leary tweeted. “Shark Tank is a crazy place, and this was a case of nerves in the tank gone wrong. I’m proud to invest in an entrepreneur who can take ownership of his actions!”
Though Malepati apologized on air and in writing, the episode reminded many female fans of the same treatment they’ve experienced in the past, and posted in solidarity with Greiner.