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There were raucous musical performances, as well as appearances by the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders and former President George W. When the quarterback emerged, the audience -- composed largely of new members -- screamed, roiling with the fervor of the recently converted.As electronic music thumped and images of spinning trophies flashed on a pair of giant screens, Brees, wearing a plaid suit jacket and an Advo Care medal, strode toward the stage, high-fiving strangers.
But Advo Care is pitching more than nutritional products.
It's also offering people a pathway to financial freedom -- the opportunity to "design their own lives" by selling those products and to earn even more money by recruiting others to join the fold.
But no spokesman matters more -- to the company, its distributors or its prospective recruits -- than Brees.
In 2014, the Saints trained next to the Advo Care Sports Performance Center in West Virginia; Brees lends his imprimatur to a line of DB9 nutrition bars and supplements.
A tall, charismatic Louisiana native who was briefly with the Kansas City Chiefs, Ragus died in 2001; there are photographs and paintings of him scattered throughout the office.
"He wanted to start a company based on what he thought would be the best way to have a direct-sales business," says Allison Levy, Advo Care's general counsel."And it never comes."Advo Care, Drew Brees: Selling A Dream? ADVOCARE IS HEADQUARTERED in a sleepy office park in Plano, Texas, in a nondescript building with tinted windows.With Saints quarterback Drew Brees and other athletes leading the way, Advo Care is using its sports ties to build a nutrition empire. In the lobby, just inside the front door, the company has installed a bust of its founder, Charlie Ragus.These new members, many of whom are drawn to the business' strong religious culture or convinced of its credibility by its ties to the sports world, infuse the company with new funds -- money that ultimately flows up to the powerful people who walk the stage at Success School.Chavez, who lives in Sierra Vista, Arizona, sat in the crowd when Brees spoke three years ago.By 2013, Chavez had spent three years trying to build an Advo Care business.He had taken out a loan on his 401(k) and quit his government job, dropping ,000 on products that he struggled to sell.They cheered through countless inspirational speeches, pounding energy drinks and pumping their fists as higher-ranking members spoke about how they had turned their lives around with the help of Advo Care, which is short for Advocates Who Care.For three days, teams of Advo Care members in matching T-shirts swarmed the concourse, taking photos with the company mascot (a generic superhero) and buying armloads of Advo Care gear. The event was called Success School, but it didn't feel like an educational seminar, according to members who were there. The weekend's biggest applause was reserved for Advo Care's national spokesman: Drew Brees.In reality, only a tiny fraction of Advo Care members earn anything close to a modest income, even as they're pressured by higher-ranking distributors to keep buying inventory."They plant the seed that you're gonna make money -- life-changing money," says Gabriel Chavez, who joined in 2010.