MLMs during the pandemic and 'Lularich' : It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders Sam interviews women's work and economic justice writer Meg Conley about the documentary series LuLaRich and how vulnerable people still get sucked into multi-level marketing schemes because their shape mirrors the American economy. Then, Harvard Ph.D. candidate and Mormon Studies Fellow at the University of Utah Janan Graham-Russell joins for a game of Who Said That?

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'LuLaRich' reveals how MLMs mirror the American economy

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AUNT BETTY: Hey, y'all. This is Sam's Aunt Betty. This week, the multilevel marketing of LuLaRoe. All right, let's start the show.



You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. I'm Sam Sanders. So I noticed something. A lot of the TV I've been consuming recently, the TV that's really hooked me - all these shows have at least one thing in common. They all offer a critique in one way or another of capitalism. "Squid Game," the most popular Netflix show ever - it is all about the lengths people will go to when they experience horrible debt and dead-end jobs - the worst of capitalism.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As announcer) OK, gamer, (speaking Korean).

SANDERS: "The White Lotus" and "Succession" - those shows mock the rich and make the case that too much money can make you an awful person.


MATTHEW MACFADYEN: (As Tom Wambsgans) Look. Here's the thing about being rich, OK? It's like being a superhero only better. You get to do what you want. The authorities can't really touch you. You get to wear a costume, but it's designed by Armani.

SANDERS: And there's this other one that I cannot stop thinking about - "LuLaRich." This one is a documentary all about a multilevel marketing scheme, where mostly stay-at-home moms sell really weird-looking leggings.

MEG CONLEY: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and some people really want to wear, like, jack-o-lanterns on their leggings. And that's, you know, OK.

SANDERS: That's Meg Conley. She's a women's work and economic justice writer. And this week, Meg and I talked about the Amazon Prime series "LuLaRich," which is all about this business, LuLaRoe. LuLaRoe convinced a lot of people to sell really loud colored tights from their homes until the whole thing just blew up. Meg and I talked about LuLaRoe and how the working moms that got into selling jack-o-lantern leggings - they often went into debt in the process. And we talked about how this series, "LuLaRich" - it was all about how the dreams of capitalism, wealth and work-life balance, for instance - those dreams can make people fall for some pretty ridiculous schemes. To be clear here, multilevel marketing has been around for a while. LuLaRoe did not invent that. Think Amway, Mary Kay, etc. But some data indicates that MLMs are actually growing during the pandemic.

We should start with just defining what an MLM is, right? It means multilevel marketing, which is not technically a pyramid scheme, but I want you to define both and tell us where LuLaRoe sat within that.

CONLEY: OK, so a pyramid scheme is - you're just selling the opportunity to make money. If 10 people give me, you know, $10 - and then 10 people give you $10, and then eventually it, like, forms an actual pyramid shape. And the people at the top make a lot of money because they get a cut of each of, you know, the $10 contributions. And then the people at the bottom, you know, make nothing because eventually you run out of people who are willing to...

SANDERS: To be recruited, yeah.

CONLEY: ...Have the opportunity to make money, right?


CONLEY: So an MLM is not technically a pyramid scheme, but it operates with the same - it's the same business model. It's just with a product. And so with LuLaRoe, the product was leggings. But the way that you made money was selling people on the opportunity to sell those leggings. And so, you know, they talk about this in the documentary "LuLaRich." But most people were making most of their bonuses, like, the majority of their compensation from LuLaRoe on the people that they signed, the bonuses they got from signing people to sell LuLaRoe.

SANDERS: And this is the thing that was really interesting and the thing that seemed pretty insidious. So, like, they're telling you, you can sell these tights. Everyone wants to buy them. But to start up, you need to give us, like, $5,000. And then from that $5,000, the person who recruited you gets a cut. But then you get a box of, like, hundreds of pairs of leggings, and you've just got to sell, right?

CONLEY: And you had to get in line to invest 'cause so many people wanted to buy the inventory.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: But you would be on a waiting list anywhere from 90 to 100 days, so we literally had these women waiting for our calls. These are people spending anywhere from five grand to 10 grand for some leggings.

CONLEY: And, you know, a lot of these women were selling breast milk to be able to afford...

SANDERS: And they were kind of urged by folks in LuLaRoe to consider doing that.

CONLEY: Right. Like, just take out a second mortgage; sell your breast milk. But the thing is, like, that's what we're told in America, right? Like, it costs money to make money. And if you are a stay-at-home mom, let me tell you, like, nobody's, like, willing to, like, give you capital to, like, start a business. Like, you're going to have to sell your breast milk, right? So they did that, and then they waited and waited for the leggings. And, you know, in the documentary, there's one woman who talks about painting a bedroom in her house...

SANDERS: I remember that.

CONLEY: ...Because she's going to set that up as her, like, LuLaRoe store. And it kind of broke my heart 'cause probably the last time she did that was, like, for a nursery for her kids.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: I cleaned out a room in the house, and I painted it.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: I moved all the stuff out of my one son's bedroom. I turned our nursery into a LuLa room.

CONLEY: Care work is work, you know? Like, we need wages for housework, But...


CONLEY: Of course, we don't have that in America. And so the way that she was able to try and make her house productive in a way that was, like, economically recognized in our country was by bringing the leggings...

SANDERS: The symbol is - I mean, like, it's just really troubling symbolism.

CONLEY: Right. I work. You know, I have been a stay-at-home mom...


CONLEY: I think all moms are working moms. But now I'm, like...


CONLEY: ...A traditionally working mom. A lot of these women in the MLM and in the documentary, they seemed to really want to do primarily the work of caring for their children. But because we don't recognize that as actual work and we don't pay for it...


CONLEY: They were trying to find a way to do both. Now, that's not all the women. A lot of them did want careers and hadn't, you know, had the opportunity or - so I think that you have a spectrum of needs.

SANDERS: So yeah, who was the typical LuLaRoe seller?

CONLEY: The typical LuLaRoe seller was white, tended to be middle class. They were active online. They were active on social media.

SANDERS: And a lot of them were stay-at-home moms, right?

CONLEY: A lot of them were stay-at-home moms. The person who started LuLaRoe, the couple, they are Mormon. And so a lot of the people initially involved in LuLaRoe were Mormon.

SANDERS: So, I mean, perhaps the most compelling part of this series "LuLaRich" is the character study of the two founders of LuLaRoe. They're quite something. Tell our listeners who they are.

CONLEY: They are quite something, so I actually knew them. I grew up in southern California, in the same - originally congregation and then kind of in the same religious community as DeAnne Stidham and Mark Stidham. I actually went to one of DeAnne's - she did dress parties when I was little.


DEANNE STIDHAM: I would invite all my friends. And I'd do it at my house, show some dresses. And people would come, shop, buy it and go.

CONLEY: And, you know, it was the '90s, so it's, like, these, like, velvet-topped dresses...


CONLEY: ...With, like, kind of poofy skirts. Like, I wanted one.


CONLEY: You know what I mean?

SANDERS: (Laughter).

CONLEY: Like, I'm like, you pair that with some, like, white little socks and black Mary Janes, and, like, you are in business.

SANDERS: There you go.

CONLEY: But my mom was like, no way, we're not buying anything from this woman. Like, my mom did not feel comfortable.


CONLEY: She said - you know, even as a child, she'd be like, she's always trying to sell you something.


STIDHAM: She called me out of the blue, wanted to buy a skirt. I said, you know, this is a really great opportunity for you to make money.

SANDERS: This is what LuLaRoe - and what she was so good at. And they kind of alluded to this in the show. They realize that stay-at-home moms were this untapped resource.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: If you want to create incredible wealth, identify an underutilized resource. And you know what? There is an underutilized resource of stay-at-home moms, and they have...

SANDERS: People weren't valuing their work. People weren't seeing them.

CONLEY: Right.

SANDERS: They weren't able to have 9-to-5s because of the kids. And so...

CONLEY: Right.

SANDERS: This was a workforce of folks that were really qualified and could do lots of things because doing parenthood is a lot of different jobs at once. And they said, oh, let's get them. Right? And so the whole PR pitch of LuLaRoe is, this is not sinister. This isn't a scam. We're giving opportunities to a certain kind of woman that never gets them. And...

CONLEY: Right.

SANDERS: That kind of message becomes so successful. I mean, LuLaRoe expands almost exponentially. And by the middle of the last decade, it's kind of everywhere, huh?

CONLEY: Yeah, so it really does go bonkers. And these women have bought into it, like, literally and figuratively. And they're selling each other on it because when you are in an oppressive system, often you're the victim, but you're also the victimizer, right? And so there's a part in the documentary where they're showing one of these cruises they go on. Like, they start going on cruises. And the moms are having, like, this (laughter) fake white mom dance party, which is...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

CONLEY: ...You know, about as awkward as you can imagine. There's one part, like, in the corner of the screen you see a mom holding her baby and dancing at the dance party. And again, I'm trying to think, in America, of a work environment...

SANDERS: Where you could do that.

CONLEY: ...Where you could go to a conference and break down with a baby, right? I mean, that is...

SANDERS: That is the dream. That is the work-life balance dream - and that LuLaRoe was offering that.

CONLEY: Yeah, or at least pretending to, right?



SANDERS: Coming up, the downfall of LuLaRoe. And who was actually at the bottom of the pyramid?


SANDERS: By the end, LuLaRoe is falling apart. They kind of grow too quickly, and the leggings get worse and crazier as time goes on. They end up arriving at people's doors, moldy and smelly and wet. There are too many people selling too many tights. The markets are saturated. The company begins to get sued. It really falls apart kind of astronomically. How epic was that fall of LuLaRoe? - because it seemed like, from me watching, it was insane.

CONLEY: I remember watching LuLaRoe disintegrate in real time. You know, it's, like, happening around 2017. And what's interesting is a lot of MLMs start falling apart because the market has become too saturated, and people are no longer buying in. Like, there are not enough people to form, like, the next bottom layer of the pyramid, right? LuLaRoe starts falling apart before that. LuLaRoe starts falling apart because their leggings start falling apart.

SANDERS: Like, literally, like, tearing on people's legs (laughter).

CONLEY: Like, literally start tearing, so that's interesting because that reflects a development that they don't talk about at all in the documentary, which is, like, the actual bottom of any MLM pyramid - the manufacturing.

SANDERS: Yeah, and those weren't white middle-class moms.

CONLEY: These are not white middle-class moms. We're not talking about the bottom of that pyramid because we don't want to because acknowledging that would mean acknowledging a lot of other things about America.


CONLEY: But the leggings start disintegrating. And, you know, study after study shows that when the quality of product becomes worse, that directly corresponds to a worsening of conditions for the people making the product.

SANDERS: And then the company briefly institutes this return policy. Then they're like, oh, sorry, can't do it anymore, because everyone...


SANDERS: ...Wanted to send all the tights back.

CONLEY: Because everybody's trying to get their money back, and then people start talking about class action lawsuits.

SANDERS: So then in spite of all of this crazy, "LuLaRich" does not go away. They're sued by, I think, Washington state, among others. People...


SANDERS: ...Leave the company in droves. The reputation of the leggings themselves is in the garbage, but LuLaRoe still exists. What is it about America and our culture that keeps us so wedded to MLMs?

CONLEY: You know, MLMs are not going to go away until we make America less pyramid-shaped.

SANDERS: And I want to stop you there and have you define what you mean when you say that America's pyramid-shaped.

CONLEY: We can talk about how disgusting pyramid schemes are, and we can, you know, laugh at white suburban moms for falling for the LuLaRoe legging thing all we want. But they fall for it because it looks like the market sphere, right? Like, it looks like America. America has a very narrow top that the only way you can get to it is by...

SANDERS: Just hustling, like, hustle culture, right? Like...

CONLEY: Hustling, yes. Yeah, totally. Like, selling people on opportunity is the American dream. Like, that's literally what the American dream does. And, you know, they didn't discuss it in "LuLaRich." You know, the cultural commentary in "LuLaRich" was basically, like, these women - they're over-educated. And they're in the home, and they have nothing to do, but they feel like they have to stay in the home. And so then this MLM comes in, and they think it's a good opportunity, but they're idiots. Really, they should, you know, leave the home and do some real work. But the work of the home has dignity and importance, and we build our careers on the underpaid labor of people within our homes, right? Like, we say, like, the work of the home is not liberating, does not fulfill us. And then we hire women to work in our homes for way too little money - often women of color. And then we build on top of their labor. Like, that is...

SANDERS: That's a pyramid scheme when you talk about it like that, you know? Yeah.

CONLEY: It's a pyramid scheme.

SANDERS: I mean, so OK - so I am hearing you say that MLMs are so appealing because a lot of the very central ideas to American capitalism are MLM-esque and pull on the same heartstrings.

CONLEY: Yeah, absolutely.

SANDERS: If that is the case, and I'm guessing you think that should change, there just has to be a level of truth-telling about our economy and what it is. I think that...


SANDERS: ...One of the positive developments of the pandemic was, as everyone had to really exist in this strange space, we had time to just reconsider, holistically, our relationship to work. And a lot of folks said to themselves...

CONLEY: Right.

SANDERS: I'm working too much for not enough money, and I'm tired. But I wonder...

CONLEY: Right.

SANDERS: ...What sitting with our relationship to work even more would feel like and look like and if we could begin to address some of these things that you speak of - you know, this idea that there are all of these kind of pyramids that we exist in. And there are folks on top, and there are folks on the bottom.

CONLEY: You're just absolutely right. You know, when the pandemic happened, some of us are at home, not all of us. But as some of us were home, I hoped we would start to understand that the home sphere and the market sphere are not separate. Like, it's not two spheres. It's really warp and weft, right? We're all woven together. What ended up happening was we took that concept of separate spheres, and we brought it, like, into the house with us with our remote work. And then we just let it split the house in half. I mean, like, millions of women had to drop out of the workforce, right?


CONLEY: Because we weren't willing to rethink the way that we've structured the home and the economy as existing apart from one another.

SANDERS: Well, I will say I'm excited about our current moment because a lot of people seem to be ready to question a lot of things. And that's where change starts, so I hope.

CONLEY: That's true. That's true.

SANDERS: Meg, will you stick around and play a game with me?

CONLEY: Yeah, absolutely.


SANDERS: Up next, we play a game of Who Said That? Stick around.


SANDERS: We are back. You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. I'm Sam Sanders, and we're about to play my favorite game, Who Said That?


KANDI BURRUSS: Who had been saying that?

PORSHA WILLIAMS: Who said that?

KENYA MOORE: Who said that?

SANDERS: I've got two amazing contestants here this week, and they both happen to know each other. They're friends, even, which makes it even more fun for the competition. Both of you, tell us who you are.

CONLEY: OK, so I'm Meg Conley. I'm a writer, and I'm so happy to be here. And I'm so nervous because I haven't been paying enough attention this week...


CONLEY: ...To the culture (laughter).

SANDERS: (Laughter) You'll be fine. You'll be fine.

JANAN GRAHAM-RUSSELL: And I am Janan Graham-Russell, and I also have not been paying attention. I like to think that I'm, you know, pop-culture savvy. But I am also ready to be embarrassed today, so let's go for it.


SANDERS: So when you are not playing Who Said That with me, what's your day job, Janan?

GRAHAM-RUSSELL: So my day job is - I'm a Harvard Ph.D. candidate and also a women's studies fellow at the University of Utah.

SANDERS: So you two are friends. You kind of operate in the same spheres of conversation, talking about Mormonism and family and all those good things. I want to say, for this game, leave your friendship and your connection behind.


SANDERS: The two of you are mortal enemies. You are competing...

CONLEY: I'm coming for you.

SANDERS: ...Against the other.


GRAHAM-RUSSELL: There can only be one.


SANDERS: So this game is really simple. I share a quote from the week of news, and you got to tell me who said it. I'll give you a lot of clues, but there are no buzzers, and there are no timers. Just yell out the answer whenever you have it, OK?



SANDERS: Let's do it. Here's the first quote. It came from a particular social media platform this week. Just name the platform. The quote is, "hello, literally everyone."

CONLEY: Twitter.



SANDERS: Yeah (laughter).

CONLEY: I'm so happy.

SANDERS: It was Twitter.



SANDERS: So that tweet came from the official Twitter account this week...


SANDERS: ...Because when Facebook and Instagram and WhatsApp went down for several hours on Monday, Twitter was like, we're still here.

CONLEY: And did you see all the responses beneath it? It was, like, so dystopian because it was, like, McDonald's, like, every brand, just kind of, like, riffing...


CONLEY: ...With each other with Twitter. It was so exciting. I was like, this is the bad place.

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah. How did y'all survive the great shutdown on Monday, when you really couldn't post to Insta or, like, gossip on WhatsApp?

GRAHAM-RUSSELL: Oh, it was great. I mean, the clouds opened up. The sun shined through. Like, I just felt like, you know...


GRAHAM-RUSSELL: We talk about - you know, just I was at peace. It was a peaceful time.

SANDERS: I will say I was surprised by how much it affected me. Like, I didn't mind Facebook being out. I don't really use Facebook at all.


SANDERS: But Instagram - I probably find myself refreshing and looking every half hour.

CONLEY: Oh, really?

SANDERS: So it was a hard day. What's crazy, though, with this whole thing - so, like, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, it's all part of the same company. And in spite of, you know, us joking about not being able to post selfies and such, you know, WhatsApp in many parts of the world is a primary means of communication. So it was a big deal.

CONLEY: Vital, yeah.

SANDERS: Yeah. And so anyway, Facebook said that the outage was due to changes in its infrastructure that coordinates traffic between its data centers. All that to say, they eventually had to send a team of people to a physical data center in Santa Clara, Calif., to reset the server computers. Y'all, they had to turn it off and then turn it back on again.


GRAHAM-RUSSELL: I love how you say that as, like, it was like middle school gossip. Like, did you hear what she's - like, that's - I just...


GRAHAM-RUSSELL: I am just loving this conversation because that's, I mean, what happened. And it's just - it's wild.

CONLEY: It's totally wild.

SANDERS: I'm, like, imagining Mark Zuckerberg blowing in the video game cartridges...


SANDERS: ...And then trying again.

CONLEY: I kept, like, you know, the scene in "Jurassic Park," where they have to, like, go get past the raptors to turn it off...

SANDERS: Yeah (laughter).

CONLEY: ...And turn it back on again - like the switch or whatever. I kept imagining that.


LAURA DERN: (As Dr. Ellie Sattler) Mr. Hammond, I think we're back in business. (Screaming).

CONLEY: Yeah, it might as well be "Jurassic Park." It's about that hostile.

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Who got that point?

CONLEY: Me. It's my only point, I'm sure, so I'm claiming it.


SANDERS: All right. This one's totally crazy. Totally, totally crazy. I think you're aware that I donated my kidney this summer, right? Yell it out. Say something.

CONLEY: It's the Bad Art Friend.



SANDERS: Yes, it's the Bad Art Friend. Did y'all both see this story?

CONLEY: OK, could you bear to read it? I got, like, two paragraphs in, and then I had to stop.

SANDERS: Janan, did you read it?

GRAHAM-RUSSELL: I did not. I saw the headline, and I'm like, you know what? I'm just going to go live my life today.

CONLEY: It's - that's good. That was the right - like, that was the right choice. It's like...

SANDERS: Well, because they pay me to study stupid, I read the whole thing, and I'm all up in the discourse. So that quote about the kidney donation, that comes from Dawn Dorland. She was one of two main characters in this story this week from the New York Times magazine called "Who Is The Bad Art Friend?"

And long story short, this piece takes part in this writer's community, a lot of writers who write together and write apart and are navigating the literary world. One of the writers, Dawn Dorland - she gave a kidney to a stranger and then began to post about it on Facebook. She even shared the letter she would send to the stranger who got her kidney. And a lot of other writers that knew her thought it seemed pretty self-centered and obnoxious.

Eventually, another writer uses part of the language of that kidney letter in a short story that seems to be mocking a fictitious Dawn Dorland. Eventually, they both sue each other. Group chats are unveiled during the course of these court proceedings, and Dawn Dorland ends up seeing all the other writers kind of talking smack about her in the group chain. It's all a mess.


SANDERS: Let me tell you though, I was popping the popcorn. The story was good. At first, I was like, why is The New York Times covering this? And then I was like, man, I'm so glad The New York Times is covering this.


SANDERS: Well - and, like, what's crazy is as soon as I finished reading the piece, I was like, oh, this has to be a movie. And I was like, who plays who in the movie?

GRAHAM-RUSSELL: I feel - I think one of them has to be Jennifer Lawrence. I just - I see her as this very dramatic character and just really, you know, just getting really into that role.


SANDERS: I totally like that. Who else could y'all see? I could see Rosamund Pike as the kidney donor, just a really uptight - very uptight woman.

CONLEY: Oh, totally. Yeah. I - like, just the thought of this, like, becoming a movie has, like, sent me into such a spiral. This discourse has lasted so much longer than I expected. If it became a movie and it, like - there was more discourse around it, I'm not sure I'd - like, that might be the end.

SANDERS: Well, I tell you what, I will watch the movie. I'll watch the miniseries. I'll watch the documentary, and I hope they find some way to put Nicole Kidman in it because Nicole Kidman.


SANDERS: Why not?

CONLEY: Yeah. Yeah, that - that'd be good.

SANDERS: All right, last quote for all the marbles. This one - this one's rough. Guess which celebrity said this. Famous singer - here we go. Quote, "to clear things up, we pooped once together, and we laughed and said never again. But he will hang out with me if I'm poop-emoji-ing (ph) because we soulmates, and I legit miss him when I'm away from him. And we pee together, obvi (ph).

CONLEY: OK (laughter).

GRAHAM-RUSSELL: Is there a lifeline that we can get with this one?


SANDERS: I will name the title of her most famous song...


SANDERS: ...Which is "All About That Bass."

GRAHAM-RUSSELL: Oh, Meghan Trainor.



CONLEY: Oh, yeah.

SANDERS: It's Meghan Trainor, yes.


SANDERS: Did y'all see this story, either of you?

CONLEY: I did not see this. How did I miss this?

SANDERS: This is epic. So that tweet came from Meghan Trainor on October 6, and she was addressing some things that she had said on Nicole Byer's podcast, "Why Won't You Date Me?" She revealed to Nicole Byer - and now to the whole world - that in the home that she shares with her husband, Daryl Sabara, they have - wait for it - side-by-side toilets.



GRAHAM-RUSSELL: Oh, no. Oh, no, boo-boo, no.


CONLEY: I can...

GRAHAM-RUSSELL: I mean, because we're - if we're on the topic of social media shutdown, like, this is - like, that's one of those times that Instagram - like, social media, like, across the board should have shut down.

SANDERS: Shut down?

GRAHAM-RUSSELL: Just shut it down.

SANDERS: Yeah, just shut it down. Like...

CONLEY: Just shut it down.

SANDERS: This should have, like, broke the algorithm and crashed all of the servers forever.

CONLEY: What? Why would they...

SANDERS: Yeah, they have side-by-side toilets.

CONLEY: Like, the people, like, building the house, like, installing the toilet, like, were they like, what? What is happening?

SANDERS: I just love, like, imagining the first call to a contractor.


SANDERS: Meghan and her husband, Daryl, are like, yeah, yeah, no, no, no, no, no, no. We want them together. But you want what? No, we want them together. Like, how far - four feet apart? But, like, together. And saying, yeah, together.

CONLEY: Yeah, like, are they close enough so that you can, like, hold hands?

SANDERS: (Laughter).

CONLEY: Are they - like, how do you decide the distance between two side-by-side toilets? Like, what do you - what are you optimizing for?

SANDERS: Do they share one toilet paper roll or are there two?

CONLEY: Yeah, exactly.

SANDERS: Yeah, all good - a lot of questions.

GRAHAM-RUSSELL: Questions - lots of questions.

CONLEY: Yeah, I'm into radical transparency in marriage, but, like, that is a step - that is something else.

SANDERS: How much would y'all - OK, wait. Wait. OK. I guess, what would it take - money, gifts, service - what would it take to get y'all to agree with having a side-by-side toilet with your partner?

CONLEY: Would we have to actually use it? I mean, I guess you could build it and give me something. But I never (unintelligible)...

GRAHAM-RUSSELL: Is there a bidet? Like, what kind of toilets are we talking about?

SANDERS: My colleague Jinae says that she would need her partner to donate their kidney...


SANDERS: ...To reveal (ph) such a thing.

CONLEY: Ah, that's so good.

SANDERS: Honestly - OK. All right. All right.

CONLEY: Honestly, I'm not even sure then - I'm going to be honest.


CONLEY: I'm a bad - I'm the Bad Art Friend because I would probably just never be able to use the restroom. Like, I would become severely ill (laughter).

GRAHAM-RUSSELL: Yeah. And, like, just staring at each other - like, do you stare? Like, what do you look at? Like...

CONLEY: Oh, that's true, though. Side by side's better than two toilets facing each other probably, now that you put it that way.

SANDERS: My editor just said it's like the poop bathroom version of "Indecent Proposal."


CONLEY: Oh, my gosh - it's so - but I just...

SANDERS: Who plays who in the side-by-side toilet movie? That's the question.


SANDERS: Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.

CONLEY: (Laughter).


SANDERS: I'm going to go to the official scorekeepers for a tally. Do we have a winner? I think I know, but I always want to check and make sure. Meg, I think it was you.

CONLEY: Dreams came true today. I'm not going to lie.


CONLEY: I'm going to be able to, like, look my family in the face. And, you know, I'm bringing the trophy home. They're going to be really proud of me. I'm really excited.

SANDERS: Wow. Wow. Janan, how you feeling right now? You OK?

GRAHAM-RUSSELL: You know what? I couldn't have lost to a better person, so, you know...




SANDERS: Look at Susan Lucci.


SANDERS: So humble, so kind, so gracious.

GRAHAM-RUSSELL: Hey, it's the Mormon in me, so...

SANDERS: Thanks again to Meg Conley and Janan Graham-Russell.


AUNT BETTY: Now it's time to end the show, as we always do. Every week, listeners share the best thing that happened to them all week. We encourage folks to brag, and they do. Let's hear a few of those submissions.

KIM: Hi, Sam. This is Kim (ph) in Cincinnati. And the best thing that happened to me this week is that my 16-year-old daughter, Lena (ph), just had her last chemo treatment. She was diagnosed in December of 2020 and has endured a really brutal regimen of chemo and radiation. She still has a ways to go in her recovery. But watching her walk out of the hospital and ring the bell for her last treatment is the best part of our whole family's week.

RACHEL: Hi Sam, this is Rachel (ph) from Pittsburgh.

KATIE: Hi, Sam.

ADINA: My name is Adina (ph). I'm from Brooklyn, N.Y.

MEGAN: Megan (ph) from Lexington, Ky.

LEE: Hey, Sam. This is Lee (ph) from Encinitas.

RACHEL: I was calling to tell you about the best part of my week, which was when my 21-month-old son, who has decided to enter the terrible twos six months early, came up to me, gave me a big hug, patted me on the back and said, mine.

ADINA: And this week, for the first time in 579 days, I got to go back to work in a Broadway theater. I work in the wardrobe department. And I've been unemployed since March 4, 2020. It was so exciting to be back to see everyone behind their masks and to feel the energy that moves through.

MEGAN: And the best thing that happened to me this week just happened. And that is that the Kentucky Wildcats just beat the Florida Gators at home for the first time since 1986, which is the year before I was born. So it's the first time that's happened in my lifetime. Go Cats. Woo.

KATIE: I am organizing my second-ever event involving local makers. And I got 30 vendors lined up in about 48 hours. And I didn't realize I had that ability or those amazing connections.

LEE: I have to share this really sweet moment that happened yesterday. I was out with a friend. We were getting a drink at a little bar that's down the street. And she had left to use the restroom. And I was practicing a dance piece that I'm learning. I'm part of a contemporary dance company. And I have a rehearsal today. And I pulled up the video. And I was just kind of reviewing it in my mind. And while I was doing that, this woman comes up to me and just says, I've been watching you. And I love what you're doing. And it's so beautiful. And how do I see you perform? And it just made my day (laughter). I - you know, you don't get compliments like that every day. So, you know, it's a reminder to just say something nice to a stranger. That can really make a difference.

RACHEL: I love the show. Keep up the good work.

MEGAN: Thank you. Bye.

KIM: Love your show. Bye.

SANDERS: Thanks again to all those listeners you heard there - Kim, Rachel, Katie (ph), Adina, Megan and Lee.

Listeners, don't forget you can share the best part of your week at any point throughout any week. We still love to hear from you. Just record yourself. And then send us a voice memo via email - That's

All right. This week's episode of IT'S BEEN A MINUTE was produced by Jinae West, Liam McBain, Anjuli Sastry and Andrea Gutierrez. Our intern is Nathan Pugh. Welcome, Nathan. Our fearless editor is Jordana Hochman. And our big boss is NPR's senior VP of programming, Anya Grundmann. All right, listeners. Till next time, be good to yourselves. I'm Sam Sanders. We'll talk soon.


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