Michigan’s Michael Skupin: Reality television star turned Christian con man

Before we had Clemetine, there was a period of time when Linette and I did normal things, like hang out at night and watch television. One of the last things that I can remember watching, back in “the television days,” was the second season of Survivor, the one that introduced the world to the petite and perky right wing propagandist we now now as Elizabeth Hasselbeck. Well, on that same season was a fellow from Michigan by the name of Michael Skupin. Skupin, a self-proclaimed man of god, as you may recall, made a name for himself by hacking a wild boar to death with a knife and then proceeding to paint his face with its still warm blood. God, he said, had provided the pig in answer to his prayers. Here, for those of you unfamiliar with Skupin, is video of him on Survivor, wringing the life out of various animals and talking about personal relationship with god.

And, here, for those of you who didn’t watch, is a quote from Skupin, taken from the above clip, in which he suggests that he should be the leader of his “tribe” as he alone is capable of providing the Lord’s bounty.

“Dear God, you know I said a lot of prayers today and you answered them with fish for us. And I’m so happy to be able to provide fish for the troops. I know that this could easily get turned around in some way to make me be the leader of the tribe… but this meal is from the bottom of my heart. It makes me so happy to be able to provide for everybody here…”

One of his teammates, after the fact, responded with the following.

“When other people catch a fish, they just catch a fish. But when Mike catches it there are trumpets that blare and angels that sing. And you know, everybody’s gotta sit down and gather around him, and hold his hands…”

Like any con man worth his salt, Skupin found a way to parlay his reality show fame into something of a career. In the wake of Survivor, he’s recreated himself as a motivational speaker, sharing his incredible wisdom with religious groups, and selling Christian trinkets through his website. For a small fee ($120 per adult, $80 per child) you can go into the woods with Skupin for an “Authentic Survivor Weekend” full of prayer and killing. And, if you can’t afford that, you can always buy one of his “Power of Prayer” videos, which are just $4.95 a piece on VHS. And, of course, there are cross necklaces, and any number of books you can purchase about how, by giving your life over to god, you can obtain anything that your heart desires. And, now, it would seem, he’s broadened his offerings to include a financial investment scheme that he calls “Pay it Forward,” which was the subject, a few nights ago, of a special report on the Detroit Fox News affiliate…. Here’s the video.

[note: Fox News investigative reporter Rob Wolcheck is a mean-spirited prick in the following clip, to the point where you might be inclined to have some sympathy for Skupin. Don’t give into the temptation. Wolchek, who who calls Skupin a “bum” and a “loser,” is clearly an asshole, but that doesn’t change the fact that Skupin is a con man, who has been running a Ponzi scheme, stealing from those who, for whatever reason, trust and respect him.]

Fox 2 News Headlines

Maybe I’m just sensitive to this kind of bullshit because, as I’ve mentioned before, my grandmother’s sister had a good portion of her savings stolen by a “financial advisor” at her church, who turned out to be a con man, but I really despise men like this who wrap themselves in religion and use is as a way to advance their criminal enterprises. As of today, the “Pay it Forward” site is password protected, so I can’t quote from Skupin directly, but, when I read the site yesterday, before he locked it down, there was a lot of really great material from Skupin about how he decided to get into the business of multi-level marketing because, in his opinion, it was a way to help those in the world who didn’t have access to 401Ks, financial advisors, and the like. Pay it Forward is, in other words, his attempt to give back to the less fortunate.

All you have to do is send Skipin $800 to $3,000, and wait. Once others join the program, you’ll start receiving big checks.

This week, I’ve been told of two reality television personalities who have gone off the rails in a big way. So this isn’t an uncommon occurrence in any way… Tila Tequila is now apparently a Nazi and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino is wanted for questioning by the FBI in a wide-ranging fraud case… People without talent who are attracted to the entertainment industry, thanks to so-called “reality” television, now have a way, other than porn, to attain fame, and it’s not surprising that people like this would, when the limelight begins to fade, either unravel completely, or cling desperately to whatever glimmer of celebrity they may have left. That neither shocks nor bothers me. What I cannot stand, however, is a character like Skupin who passes himself off as a happily married and financially successful man of god, speaking at Christian conferences, when, in reality, he’s living apart from his third wife in a home that’s been foreclosed on, stealing money from the poor. I don’t know that I’d call him a loser and a bum, like Rob Wolcheck, but he’s certainly a despicable excuse for a human being.

Here he is selling Pay it Forward. Judge for yourself.

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17 Comments

  1. Posted December 15, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    “But I really despise men like this who wrap themselves in religion and use is as a way to advance their criminal enterprises.”

    This describes nearly the entire history of religion.

  2. Existence
    Posted December 15, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    The Fox News “hall of shame” footage looks like they edited it too quickly. I suspect that quite often they berate their subjects hoping to get a rise out of them. This time though it looks like they forgot to edit that part out.

  3. John Galt
    Posted December 15, 2013 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I see nothing wrong with this. In fact, I think we should get rid of Social Security and institute a pyramid type arrangement like this instead, which people could join of their own free will. The government should not be in the business of caring for its citizens. The free market can solve everything.

  4. Posted December 15, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Based on my income, I can get Blue Cross Premier for $124 a month and a (total) $6,000 a year deductible for three people of ages 44, 42 and 23.

    If I were just the 23 year old, I could get this a Gold plan for $64 a month with only a $250 deductible per year.

    EOS, your information is incorrect.

  5. Jimbo
    Posted December 15, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    What’s crazy is that Skupin was just on Survivor again a year ago. He tied for 2nd, which means he got a pretty decent amount of money (he got paid somewhere around 90k, the midway point between the 2nd and 3rd place payments) for ~7 weeks of work and yet the guy has racked up so much debt that he has to resort to a pyramid scheme to make money. How people believe that a business that offers no product or service can guarantee an 800% rate of return is beyond me, but I guess he’s pretty successful at finding those types of idiots, although probably not for much longer since I’m sure he’ll be headed for jail in the near future.

  6. Posted December 15, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Even better, if I were 23, I could get a Platinum plan for this

    Personal Alliance 500 HMO | Platinum HAP

    Monthly premium $168/mo

    Deductible $500/yr Per individual

    Out-of-pocket Maximum $1,500/yr Per individual

    Copayments/Coinsurance:

    Primary Doctor: $10
    Specialist Doctor: $30
    Generic Prescription: $5
    ER Visit: $250

  7. Posted December 15, 2013 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    I think you’re putting your comments in the wrong thread, Pete… Unless, of course, you’re making a statement about Obamacare being a Ponzi scheme.

  8. jcp2
    Posted December 15, 2013 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    It IS an arrangement where money paid in by many people is paid out only for a few on an annual basis, with the hope that income is equal to or greater than expenditures. It is also not actuarially sound, as future costs cannot be predicted.

  9. Elf
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    It looks like the website is down (http://www.rhinosoftinteractive.com/), but prior to Survivor Skupin was co-founder of Rhinosoft Interactive, a maker of Christian-based computer software.

    “Rhinosoft Interactive is a Christian owned and operated midwestern corporation which publishes and distributes Bible-based software. Rhinosoft Interactive is the exclusive publisher of Focus On The Family’s Adventures In Odyssey CD-ROM’s. These titles allow users to explore Whit’s End and interact with all their favorite characters from the land of Odyssey.”

  10. anonymous
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    From the Pay It Forward page on Facebook:

    “Please share this to friends and family who are in need of money! ….Guy this is real. This is not a gimmick, a joke or an illegal pyramid scheme. YES it IS a pyramid, EVERYTHING is. YOUR JOB is a pyramid correct? This is a system built to literally make sure EVERYONE wins, not just the guys at the top. Everyone DOES get paid EQUALLY. EVERYTIME. Now share this!!”

  11. Bob Krzewinski
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    The Channel 2 piece shows Skupin in photos with Bush and Pat Robertson as if that gives him credibility. The saying that a sucker is born every minute still rings so true for people that send this con-man money.

    As far as “Suvivor” contestants, how about we send them to Isle Royale for a winter with no communications (and no TV camera either) until spring and see how they do?

  12. Elliott
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    His bio says that he used to run a non-profit as well. I’d love to see their books.

  13. Rick
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    At least Skupin is offering a pay off in this lifetime, and not the next. That makes him better than Jesus in my book.

  14. tommy
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    and in other news, Rich Magner wants ‘you’ to fund the revival of Blimpy Burger. At least you might get a burger or two if you give him your money. Don’t be a sucka’.

    Go to the fucking bank and get a loan dude. If you haven’t made enough money to do so after running an iconic business in A2 for the last 20 + years, then go away and stop asking for a handout.

  15. Posted December 16, 2013 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    I never really liked Blimpy Burger.

    Why would they be asking for handouts from the community?

    Oh, I think I know why.

    They are easier not to pay back.

  16. Robert
    Posted December 19, 2013 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    He’s sort of the EOS of the real world.

  17. I have relevant info
    Posted January 18, 2014 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    http://imgur.com/yq7lg7u

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