No, it’s not Shark Week — not that Shark Week, anyway — but you’re about to get schooled. Instead of interesting facts about fish, we’re here with fascinating facts about the so-called “Sharks” from ABC's Shark Tank: Mark Cuban; Barbara Corcoran; Lori Greiner; Robert Herjavec; Daymond John; and, Kevin O'Leary.
As longtime viewers know, the Emmy-winning, pitch-meeting reality TV series challenges start-up entrepreneurs to pitch their million-dollar ideas to a panel of five hot-shot investors known as Sharks. After each entrepreneur makes his or her pitch, the investors — or Sharks — decide whether to finance the project. If the idea is really great, the Sharks might get into a bidding war (a Sharknado, if you will). If the idea is just OK, but one Shark thinks it might have potential, the entrepreneur might get a small bridge loan to cover a portion of production costs. Other entrepreneurs, however, are promptly thrown overboard.
Some of the most successful products that got their start on Shark Tank include the Squatty Potty, Bombas socks, Scrub Daddy sponges and the Bouqs online flower boutique.
In addition to special guest stars, there are five millionaires — and one billionaire — who have regularly played Sharks since the show’s 2009 premiere: the real-estate tycoon Barbara Corcoran; the so-called “Queen of QVC,” Lori Greiner; IT entrepreneur (and former Dancing With the Stars star) Robert Herjavec; the founder of the FUBU fashion brand, Daymond John; investor Kevin O’Leary; and, the show’s resident 10-figure-man, Mark Cuban, the tech mogul, NBA owner and fellow DWTS alum.
We dove underwater to get an up-close look at these wily Sharks, and what we found just below the surface will blow your mind.
For example, did you know that Cuban once beat out future President Donald Trump for a coveted movie role? (Or, perhaps we should say, a movie role that Trump really coveted?)
Keep reading to get the details on that story, and all the rest of our surprising facts about the Shark Tank Sharks. Check ‘em out.
1. Barbara shows a little leg
Back in 2016, Barbara Corcoran was criticized for a tweet she posted about turning heads in an industry traditionally dominated by men. “I find running a #business in a man’s world to be a huge advantage. I wear bright colors, yank up my skirt + get attention,” it said. Corcoran deleted the tweet, but stood by its sentiment, adding, “I totally believe what I said. And I’m frankly a little bit surprised by getting any reaction to it.”prevnext
2. Pandemic problem
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Miami Herald reported that Daymond John’s firm, the Shark Group, was part of talks to sell N95 protective masks to the state of Florida at inflated prices. The deal never went through, and John denied that the now-defunct pact was problematic. In a statement on Twitter, he called the Herald article a “gross distortion.” He said that he was not involved with setting prices, and that his only wish was to help save lives.prevnext
3. Dueling lawsuits
In 2017, an ex-girlfriend, Czech actress Danielle Vasinova, filed a civil suit against Robert Herjavec, accusing him of sexual assault and domestic violence. The two were romantically involved in 2013, near the end of Herjavec’s first marriage. Herjavec denied the accusations and sued Vasinova for extortion. Both lawsuits were settled out of court.prevnext
4. Toxic workplace
In 2018, the NBA forced Mark Cuban to shell out $10 million to women’s leadership and domestic-violence organizations following an investigation into claims of rampant sexual harassment and other improper conduct in the Dallas Mavericks’ front office. Cuban was not directly accused of any misconduct. But what was his surprising response?prevnext
More on the Mavericks mess
Mark Cuban emphatically denied any knowledge of the toxic-workplace environment -- but he didn’t use that statement to give himself a pass. “In hindsight, it was staring me right in the face and I missed it,” Cuban said to ESPN. “I wasn’t as focused on the business as I should have been.”prevnext
5. Shocking tragedy on the water
In 2019, Kevin O’Leary and his wife, Linda O’Leary, were involved in a fatal boat crash in Ontario, Canada. Two passengers died after the O’Learys’ vessel, driven by Linda O’Leary, crashed into theirs. Kevin O’Leary gave a statement that the other boat had no navigation lights on at the time of the crash. In September 2020, Canadian authorities charged Linda O'Leary with careless operation of a vessel, The operator of the second boat was facing a charge related to the vessel's navigation lights.prevnext
6. Barbara’s definition of “sexy”
In late 2019, People named crooner John Legend their sexiest man alive, and Barbara Corcoran had thoughts. Corcoran took to Twitter to voice her displeasure with the decision. She wrote, "No doubt John Legend is a phenomenal musician, but I'll tell you what makes a guy sexy- a fabulously chiseled face, eyes that communicate ‘I want you NOW!’ and a body that you can't stop looking at." Evidently, Legend’s stare was not quite sultry enough for the Shark.prevnext
7. This Shark stays up late
Most success-hack stories sing the praises of waking up early and conquering the day. Lori Greiner is not about that life. She reports exercising at midnight, going to sleep around 2 a.m. and rarely getting up before 9 in the morning. So, for all you night owls out there, there’s still hope for success!prevnext
8. Mark beat Trump for president!
Mark Cuban has never run for political office, but he did play the president in Syfy’s Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!. The part was first offered to then-White House candidate Donald Trump. Trump and his team were extremely unhappy with Cuban’s casting. Here’s why.prevnext
More ‘Sharknado’ scoop
Sharknado producer David Latt recalls that, after weeks of silence from Donald Trump’s camp, and with the production clock ticking, producers decided to move on with Mark Cuban.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Latt said, "Then we immediately heard from Trump's lawyer," Latt said of Trump’s now-notorious fixer, Michael Cohen, "He basically said, 'How dare you? Donald wanted to do this. We're going to sue you! We're going to shut the entire show down!'”
Sharknado 3, which was not shut down, premiered on Syfy in 2015.prevnext
9. Cuban and Trump, Round 2
Although he’s never run for office, Mark Cuban has been loosely involved in real-world politics for some time. Cuban, who identifies as libertarian, even served in an “advisory role” on President Donald Trump’s COVID-era economic council. But he’s also admittedly no fan of the 45th president of the United States — and not because of their Sharknado-borne beef.
Here’s what Cuban has had to say about Trump.prevnext
Not exactly compliments
In 2016, as he endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, Mark Cuban called Donald Trump a “jagoff.” In 2020, Cuban told the New York Times: “Never once in conversation with [Trump] have I ever thought, That was an interesting insight. Not when it comes to business. Not when it comes to marketing. Not when it comes to anything. More the opposite. It was like, What the [expletive]?”
Cuban, on the other hand, has some interesting thoughts when it comes to American politics. Here are a few...prevnext
11. Mark’s got a Cubancare plan
Mark Cuban wants to fix American healthcare. His idea involves zero up-front premiums and a repayment plan based on a percent of discretionary income. For large medical expenses, Americans would make payments annually for 15 years or until the bill is paid, whichever comes first.
Cuban’s plan has yet to be considered by any major politicians. If you think that’s interesting, wait until you see his plan for COVID-19 stimulus checks.prevnext
12. Mark’s stimulating conversation
As the U.S. economy reeled from pandemic-related shutdowns, Mark Cuban was in favor of sending qualifying Americans $1,000 checks every two weeks. The catch? Each person would only have two weeks to spend the money. Cuban believes that the ticking clock would get people spending and electrify the stagnant economy.prevnext
13. Kevin wanted to run Canada
The Montreal-born Kevin O’Leary announced in early 2017 that he would throw his hat into the ring to become the leader of Canada’s Conservative Party. In Canada's parliamentary system, the leader of the party with the most seats in the House of Commons becomes prime minister. So, what was O’Leary’s platform?prevnext
He’s no Bambi?
Kevin O’Leary’s policies will look familiar to those who follow politics in the United States. The conservative-leaning O’Leary is a fan of lower corporate tax rates, fewer regulations and scrapping carbon taxes.
He believes that Canada essentially has to match trade policies enacted by the Donald Trump administration in order to keep Canada competitive economically. He once described economic negotiations between Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as “Godzilla vs. Bambi.”prevnext
Je ne parle pas le français
In 2017, Kevin O’Leary decided he couldn’t defeat incumbent Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Canada’s general election. So, he dropped out of the Conservative Party race, conceding to Maxime Bernier (pictured, at left). O’Leary cited his poor French-language skills as one of his political disadvantages.prevnext
14. Barbara was a wise investment
Barbara Corcoran’s first financier wasn’t a bank or a venture capitalist. Her boyfriend back in 1973 told her he thought she’d make a great real-estate agent, and loaned her $1,000 to get her business started. Corcoran eventually turned that thousand bucks into a $70 million real-estate empire.prevnext
15. Lori’s a Shark of many talents
Lori Greiner didn’t always know that she would be dubbed home-shopping royalty. Long before she made her first million, Greiner lived in Chicago and worked many different jobs — journalist, jewelry designer and even playwright. Just before Greiner turned 27, she sold a line of plastic-earring organizers to J.C. Penney. Since then, she has patented more than 100 consumer goods.prevnext
16. The secret to Robert’s success: He had “no idea”
Shortly after graduating from the University of Toronto, Robert Herjavec worked for Canada’s Global TV. One day, as Herjavec tells it, he walked by a producer who was lamenting that she’d never find a Croatian-speaking field producer for the upcoming 1984 Winter Olympics in the then-country of Yugoslavia. Herjavec, who grew up in Yugoslavia’s republic of Croatia, shot his shot and got the gig, despite having no experience in the field. “I had no idea what I was doing, but I got the job done,” he wrote.prevnext
17. Queens made a king of Daymond
As you may know, Daymond John founded the popular FUBU apparel brand, but how the company got its start is its own kind of amazing story. In 1989, the 20-year-old native New Yorker noticed that tie-top wool beanies were all the rage in his Queens neighborhood, but he felt they were overpriced. So he broke out a sewing machine, and made 80 tie-top beanies.
John didn’t know it at the time, but he had just started something that would change his life.prevnext
18. Daymond was a sell-out (in a good way)
Daymond John offered his beanies for $10 each to neighbors on the sidewalk. In 90 minutes, he’d sold out -- and made $800. The business grew steadily for years, becoming an important label in streetwear circles, but it would take a famous fan, however, to take John’s brainchild to the top of its game.prevnext
19. A famous fan put Daymond over the top
In 1999, rapper/actor LL Cool J, who hailed from Daymond John’s Queens neighborhood, helped take FUBU mainstream when he wore a branded hat in a Gap commercial. LL even worked “for us, by us” into the lyrics he wrote for the advertisement -- a sly, but bold shout-out to the acronym for John’s company.prevnext
20. This Shark’s covered a *lot* of territory
Kevin O’Leary’s stepfather, economist George Kanawaty, worked for the United Nations. Owing to Kanawaty’s internationally focused job, the young O'Leary and his family moved to a new country every two years or so. In addition to Canada, O'Leary has lived in Cambodia, Cyprus, Tunisia, Japan, France and Switzerland. Today, he lives in Toronto.prevnext
21. Kevin lost a job, but gained a philosophy
Kevin O’Leary’s first job was at an ice-cream parlor. He lasted a day. Reflecting on his firing, he reports having learned: “There are people that own the store, and people that scrape the s--- off the floor. You have to decide which one you are.”prevnext
22. Kevin wasn’t always all about the Benjamins
In his youth, Kevin O'Leary gravitated toward artistic pursuits: O’Leary wanted to be a photographer. But his financially savvy mom and his economist stepfather persuaded him to enroll in college. Four years later, after he earned his undergraduate degree, O’Leary was decided: He still wanted to become a photographer.prevnext
23. Kevin’s big detour
Kevin O’Leary’s stepfather ultimately convinced the young O’Leary that even a photographer needed to know how to run a business. O’Leary enrolled in grad school to pursue an MBA. And during his return to the classroom, O’Leary caught the business bug.prevnext
24. Kevin’s still a shutterbug
Though Kevin O’Leary never fulfilled his dream of becoming a professional photographer, he still spends some of his free time behind the lens. As of 2015, O’Leary said he was taking photos basically every day.prevnext
25. Mark began cleaning up with garbage bags
Mark Cuban reports that his first foray into entrepreneurship came when he was just 12. According to Cuban, he went door-to-door selling garbage bags in his Pittsburgh neighborhood because his dad insisted the young Cuban pay for his own basketball sneakers. The rest is billionaire history. Let that be a lesson to you, parents of America.prevnext
26. Mark cashed in on ‘Saturday Night Fever’
Mark Cuban says the best job he ever had was one he cooked up for himself in college. The plucky, young entrepreneur charged sororities $25 an hour to teach disco-dance lessons. Yes, really. And Cuban isn’t shy about his God-given talent on the dance floor. The billionaire showed off his dance moves on the fifth season of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars.prevnext
27. Ballroom drama
Mark Cuban laced up his dancing shoes on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars in 2007. Cuban and dance-floor partner Kym Johnson made it through five weeks of competition, finishing in eighth place. But that’s not where this Sharks story ends.prevnext
Robert found his dancing queen
In 2015, Robert Herjavec followed in Mark Cuban’s toe-tapping footsteps, and signed onto Dancing With the Stars. Like Cuban, Herjavec was paired with Kym Johnson. And though Herjavec and Johnson failed to claim the mirror-ball trophy (they finished in sixth), the pair waltzed away with a much bigger prize: marriage. Their on-screen partnership continued as an off-screen romance. The two married in 2016.prevnext
28. Barbara fought to make the grade
Barbara Corcoran says report cards are no forecast for how hard young people will hustle as adults in the workforce. The mother of two also says it’s important for students not to let their report cards define them. Corcoran has lived this pep talk: The tycoon, who’s dsylexic, earned some less-than-stellar grades in high school and college.prevnext
29. Mark has an expensive mouth
These days, it barely makes headlines when the NBA slaps the outspoken Mark Cuban with a fine. The heftiest penalty to date came in 2002 after Cuban said of a league official, "Ed Rush might have been a great ref, but I wouldn't hire him to manage a Dairy Queen." That quippy Shark attack cost Cuban half a million dollars.prevnext
30. The mission that gave Robert a mission
When Robert Herjavec was going through a divorce, he sought counsel from a pastor in Seattle. The pastor recommended that Herjavec donate his time at the Union Gospel Mission, a local men’s homeless shelter. Herjavec has said the experience opened his eyes to the misfortunes of others. He remains a major donor at the organization today. And Herjavec isn’t the only Shark who’s passionate about helping others.prevnext
31. Mark’s best basketball move wasn’t about basketball
Delonte West is a former NBA player who used to star for Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks. For years, he’s struggled with mental illness, substance abuse and homelessness. In 2020, some eagle-eyed Mavs fans spotted West on the streets around Dallas, and contacted Cuban for help. Cuban met up with the former point guard at a gas station. Soon after, Cuban helped reunite West with the player’s mother, and find him a safe place to seek addiction treatment.prevnext
More on Mark’s good deed
In October 2020, Mark Cuban shared a photo on Twitter of Delonte West on horseback. The tweet read “A long, long, long way to go, but he has taken the first steps and shared these with all of us as a thank you for the love and support.”prev