Mike Rowe Called Sellout After Voiceover for Wal-Mart Commercial

Image: Mike Rowe Called Sellout After Voiceover for Wal-Mart Commercial

Friday, 21 Feb 2014 04:13 PM

By Ken Mandel

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Actor and television star Mike Rowe, the former host of Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs," is embroiled in a controversy stemming from his participation in a Wal-Mart commercial that aired during the Olympics.

Rowe's voice was heard in an ad that touted the retailer's pledge to manufacture goods in the U.S. It ran during the opening ceremonies of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

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Despite the positive message, Rowe, viewed as a champion of the working class underdog, has been besieged with criticism for supporting a company perceived as anti-union and low-paying.

"He dismissed people's concerns," Jobs with Justice spokeswoman Ori Korin told CBS News. "As someone who has been on the side working people before, we would have hoped he would have thought twice about working for a company that is notorious for not treating its workers well."

Jobs with Justice isn't done voicing their concerns with the company, which reported $4.4 billion in fourth-quarter sales on Thursday, though that was a 21 percent from the same period a year earlier.  The group is organizing a letter campaign to implore Rowe to hear the concerns of Wal-Mart workers.

Rowe has since defended his role in the ad numerous times on television and radio, and is promoting his new book, "Profoundly Disconnected: A True Confession from Mike Rowe."

He took to Facebook too with a long post about why he did the ad.

"I’m not a spokesman for Wal-Mart. I narrated a very specific commercial because I’m a fan of what Wal-Mart is trying to accomplish with this particular initiative," he wrote. "The mikeroweWORKS Foundation is in the business of partnering with any company that want’s to see American manufacturing revitalized. If Wal-Mart asks me to do more commercials like this, I will. Likewise Ford. Or Chevy. Or Lowe’s. Or Home Depot. Or George Soros. Or The Koch Brothers. Or The Sultan of Brunei. I really don’t [care] about where the investment is coming from, as long as it’s getting the U.S. back to the business of making things. Because there is simply nothing more important to the future of the country."

Earlier this week, the 51-year-old announced that he was ending his seven-year run as a pitchman for Ford Motor Co., though he wished the company "every possible success that any car company could ever have," according to The Detroit News.

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