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15 surprising facts you didn’t know about ‘Shark Tank’

Summary List Placement"Shark Tank" isn't an original show concept. In fact, it started as a series in Japan. The first version of "Shark Tank" aired in Japan in 2001, and it was called "Money Tigers." The show was then picked up in the UK and called "Dragons' Den."  In 2006, Canada made their own version under the same name.  It wasn't until 2009 that "Shark Tank" premiered in the US.  "Shark Tank" was not popular with audiences in the first season, and it was going to be canceled. When the show premiered in 2009, "very few people watched it," according to Daymond John, an...

shark tank

Summary List Placement

“Shark Tank” isn’t an original show concept. In fact, it started as a series in Japan.

The first version of “Shark Tank” aired in Japan in 2001, and it was called “Money Tigers.” The show was then picked up in the UK and called “Dragons’ Den.”  In 2006, Canada made their own version under the same name. 

It wasn’t until 2009 that “Shark Tank” premiered in the US. 

“Shark Tank” was not popular with audiences in the first season, and it was going to be canceled.

When the show premiered in 2009, “very few people watched it,” according to Daymond John, an original shark in the series. The show was pushed to different time slots and eventually almost got the ax, but it was saved thanks to a leadership change and two new faces. 

“In season two, we got some help, as Jeff Foxworthy and Mark Cuban joined as guest sharks for a few episodes each,” John wrote on his website. “Their appearances brought more awareness to the show, and ‘Shark Tank’ began to gain a little bit of momentum.”

In the first season, the sharks were seated behind a tall desk that had stacks of money on it.

“The raised news desk setup remained for the first couple of episodes,” John wrote on his website. “They eventually cut that…as they felt that it was not intimate enough. From then on, they put us on the ground level to negotiate.”

It’s extremely difficult to be featured as an entrepreneur on “Shark Tank.”

Entrepreneurs can apply to be on the show, but they have a lot of competition. USA Today reported in 2019 that an average of 35,000 to 40,000 people apply every year to be on the show — but for its 10th season, only 158 pitches were filmed and just 88 made it to TV. 

Sharks have confirmed that the people who pitch aren’t necessarily guaranteed a spot in an episode. Cuban told CNN that 20% of the pitches they see aren’t aired in the series, and John wrote on his website that “150 or so get to pitch us, and less than 100 make it on the air.”

Even if an entrepreneur makes a deal with the sharks on set, there’s still a chance that deal will fall through.

When the sharks make a deal on TV, it isn’t a binding contract. After filming, the sharks and their teams begin combing through the entrepreneurs’ financials to make sure they weren’t lying during the pitch. Even if it all does work out, some businesses pull out before the deal is officially made. 

“Of the deals I make on the air, maybe 30% don’t happen,” Cuban told D Magazine in 2014. “I’d say 90% of the time, the entrepreneur changed the deal. It was not us backing out.” 

There was a time when entrepreneurs would accept the shark’s offer and then look for a better offer somewhere else.

“We’re all asking for the entrepreneur(s) to sign something so they won’t shop the deal because that happens all the time,” Barbara Corcoran, a shark on the series, told AOL in 2017. “We [would] make a deal, they shop around and get a better deal and leave us hanging.”

ABC finally made a no-shop clause, barring entrepreneurs from shopping the offer around. 

Scrub Daddy is considered one of the most successful businesses to come out of “Shark Tank.”

In 2012, Aaron Krause went on “Shark Tank” to pitch his durable, reusable, smiley-faced sponge that he called the Scrub Daddy. Lori Greiner invested $200,000 for a 20% stake. By 2020, the company was valued at $170 million after selling 25 million sponges

When contestants arrive in the Tank, they have to stare at the sharks for 60 seconds without saying a word.

In order for the cameras to get every angle of the entrepreneurs when they first enter, they are not allowed to speak for a full minute. 

“They stare silently at the sharks,” Nancy Nichols at D Magazine wrote after visiting the set in 2014. “It is excruciating to watch.”

Entrepreneurs get only one take to get their pitches right.

Dave Vasen, the founder of brightwheel, went on “Shark Tank” in 2016 and made a deal with Chris Sacca and Mark Cuban.

He later wrote an essay on Medium where he talked about the stress of appearing on the one-take show. 

“The questions, the answers, the back and forth — it’s all real. Sure, some of it is edited to be a bit dramatic,” Vasen wrote. “But it’s legit. And not easy. If you mess up, you mess up. If it goes off course, tough luck. No do-overs.”

Filming days are long and grueling for the sharks.

When watching an episode of “Shark Tank,” it may not be clear that the 10-minute pitches are significantly edited down for time. In fact, most pitches last an hour to two hours. In season four, Plate Topper founder Michael Tseng pitched for 2 and a half hours

Typically, the sharks hear six to eight pitches per day, and each of the shooting days could last 12 hours. It’s an efficient way to shoot a whole season in just 17 days, but it leaves many of the sharks exhausted.

“We’re cold, we’re hungry, we’re miserable,” Robert Herjavec, a shark on the show, told Insider in 2015

Corcoran also told Insider that she has to squeeze her legs so that they don’t fall asleep while sitting in heels for all the hours of filming. 

The experience can be difficult for the entrepreneurs too, so production provides an on-set psychiatrist.

When an entrepreneur leaves the Tank after pitching, they must visit the on-set psychiatrist whether or not they made a deal. 

Rent Like A Champion business partners Drew Mitchell and Mike Doyle went on the show in 2015 and made a deal with both Mark Cuban and Chris Sacca. When they left the Tank, they had to speak to the psychiatrist for 10 minutes. 

“The conversation is pretty casual, and she asks you to be reflective on the experience, but I think what’s going on is they’re trying to assess that you don’t have any post-Tank trauma,” Mitchell told Insider in 2015.

The sharks admitted that they sometimes make offers just because they feel bad for the entrepreneurs.

Even though the sharks are known for making smart business decisions, they are sometimes moved by a heartwarming story.

“If it’s a relatively small deal, let’s say $50,000 or $70,000, a lot of money, but relatively small compared to some of the big ones we make, and there’s a kid or somebody that’s a feel good story, Daymond hopes that nobody takes it and then he’s waiting for them to walk out the door so he can go ‘Dang it, wait a minute, I’m going out there to get them,'” Cuban told AOL in 2017

Mark Cuban threatened to leave the show once when they offered him $30,000 per episode.

In 2014, a group of hackers leaked data and emails from film studio Sony. Among the leaked information were Cuban’s emails where he expressed frustration with the low pay. 

“Seriously? no chance… this is beyond an insult and it shows no one cares about the investments I have made or the entrepreneurs,” Cuban wrote in an email. He added that production should leave him out of the promos in case he has to leave the show. 

“It’s nothing I wouldn’t have said publicly,” Cuban said after his emails came to light. “If they want me to continue to do ‘good television’ and make investments that I like to do but that I otherwise would not have done or would not have been accessible to me, then it’s a decision they have to make. And if we don’t come to a resolution, I’ll leave the show.”

Cuban, who joined “Shark Tank” in 2011, remains on the show today.

“Shark Tank” once had a spin-off series called “Beyond the Tank.”

In 2015, the producers of “Shark Tank” premiered “Beyond the Tank,” which followed entrepreneurs and the sharks after the deal is made. 

“As the Sharks travel across America to mentor the entrepreneurs, assess the businesses and provide their industry expertise — to make a profit — audiences will realize the challenges and spirited negotiations are never over,” ABC writes about the series. “What lies in the aftermath of their investment? Did a promising deal turn sour, or did it lead to millions of dollars in sales?”

An episode of “Beyond the Tank” hasn’t aired since 2016. 

Every shark has a reel that shows them looking rich and powerful, but it was difficult to produce one for Chris Sacca.

Each of the sharks has an intro that shows them flying on private jets, walking through their mansions, or driving an expensive car. It’s usually called the “Shark Reel,” according to CNBC.

When it came time to film millionaire Chris Sacca’s reel, the producers ran into trouble because he didn’t own a mansion, fancy cars, or a powerful corporate office. 

“They didn’t know how to make me look rich to America,” Sacca told CNBC in 2017. “And you have to really overcompensate because of the shirt.”

Instead, Sacca had to rent out a conference room and order an Uber for his “Shark Reel.”

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