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Herbalife's Michael O. Johnson responds to critics in this interview with Giselle Fernandez

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Published on Oct 27, 2014

Herbalife CEO Michael O. Johnson responds for the first time to Pershing Square hedge fund's Bill Ackman's pyramid scheme allegations in this interview with Giselle Fernandez for LA Magazine's video series "Big Shots.

Until now the war of words on Wall Street on the Herbalife story has been mostly one sided with Pershing Square Hedge Fund Manager Bill Ackman hurling vitriolic accusations against the company in an endless barrage for nearly twenty months.  I wanted to understand more about this epic battle that has billionaires brawling on live television and the main accuser concerned over exploitation of poor Latinos as his motivation.  We have 36 percent of our kids living in poverty, limited access to collateral to grow Latino businesses, high drop out rates, high unemployment rates and I can't remember any billionaires diving into these inequities causing salacious headlines of concern.  

As far as I knew, Herbalife was one of those businesses that granted under-served communities a chance to be entrepreneurs and have access to nutrition products hard to come by in their communities. I have blogged about the disparity of wealth issues in this nation and the great divide of opportunity that is available for so many to access the dream.  Herbalife always seemed like one of those companies that offered a shot and health products while at it. For that I was a fan.

When Bill Ackman bet a billion dollars against the company, vowed to take it down and has spent $50 million trying to do so, I was stunned by his doggedness.  When Carl Ichan jumped in to defend the company and entered into a tirade against Ackman, it turned surreal. I was glued as if watching a tele-novela or an episode of J.R. Ewing's scandalous, Dallas. To counter all the noise, I wanted to hear what the man himself at the helm of Herbalife, had to say.  When he agreed to an exclusive interview, it turned out Michael Johnson had a lot to say about the company he runs and champions.  It will be up to the FTC to decide the company's fate. In the meantime, we finally hear from Johnson. It's clear in this interview he's not just the face of the company, this man's heart is in it and he defends Herbalife with the same ferocity we've come to know from his accusers.

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