While the media have been in snooze mode over the past few days, I came across a short video blog posted on December 13 by Daniel Bishop. At 1:03 Bishop mentions “everyone wanting to know what happened to Shan’ann Watts’ car.”
Bishop describes Shan’ann’s vehicle as leased, and given to her by Thrive as part of an “auto bonus.” Remember Thrive? How long has been since Thrive or MLM has entered the media narrative, or any narrative regarding this case? Too long in my view. I suspect Bishop’s contention that the Lexus was a lease is true, and have suspected that for some time, but is there any proof of this?
What the Discovery Documents say about Shan’ann’s Lexus
Lexus appears 69 times in the Discovery Documents, while the word car appears 87 times. And there it is in black and white:
Curiously, the wording isn’t even that Shan’ann had leased the Lexus, but that the “Watts family” had leased it. This suggests that technically it wasn’t “Shan’ann’s car” even in the family sense, especially if Watts was paying for the lease.
Now we don’t know that for sure, but consider what we do know:
- The Lexus was usually parked inside the garage while Chris Watts’ truck was invariably outside [the vehicular equivalent of him not sleeping in his own bed, but in the basement].
- Watts’ work truck was outside during a hailstorm, one Shan’ann filmed, while “her” vehicle was in the garage. According to Watts, be believed his vehicle had been vandalized or broken into, but left his toolboxes in the back unlocked to “see if anyone was trying to break into the truck” again.
- Watts used the Lexus frequently while Shan’ann was away, including to drive his mistress to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve on the weekend of July 28.
- Following a six minute call to Shan’ann, Shan’ann sent Watts an insurance identification card on the Lexus on July 30, the morning following his return from the Great Sand Dunes National Park. It seems Watts used this information to renew the insurance [another expense] effective from August 15 to February 15. It’s unclear whether the car was insured prior to these dates, and who was paying the insurance premium. The fact that Watts appears to have requested insurance information may indicate that they had defaulted on these payments, or that he intended to take them over once Shan’ann was dead.
- Watts was not allowed to run errands in his work truck, which was fitted with a GPS and monitored by Anadarko. This means technically, neither Watts nor his wife were actually vehicle owners in their own right. It also meant he would necessarily need to use the Lexus himself, and Shana’nn’s Facebook does show Watts often behind the wheel, while she is in the passenger seat.
According to Bishop, the leasing company took back Shan’ann’s 2016 Lexus, and because it was too old to be leased out any further, they auctioned it off. So, CO 528-ZJV – like Chris Watts – is gone.
Over the past month or so, Chris Watts has been villainised [not without good reason] and Nichol Kessinger villified, particularly on social media. But one entity has come out of this debacle with barely a speck of blame. Let’s deal with Thrive again, briefly, and the “auto bonus” spiel. We’ll so via Shan’ann and other MLMers.
What Shan’ann and other MLMers say about the luxury car bonus
Shan’ann, her mother, Chris Watts and the Watts family go way back when it comes to cars. Shan’ann used to work at Dirty South after all.
So posing next to cars was almost second nature to her, and if you’re a mechanic, what’s wrong with you or your wife, or you and your wife, using a snazzy car to sell shit?
In the above video, Shan’ann and her fellow promoters are at the rooftop pool of a San Diego hotel, when Shan’ann announces Nickole Atkinson has hit her “12K”, and earned her auto bonus. Atkinson appears to shed a tear on camera, that’s how moved she is by her achievement, and the honor of being recognized by her MLM peers.
In the video, dated June 26, Shan’ann adds that Nickole had started working full-time as a Thrive promoter for the past month [presumably June], “working the business”, and that she [Nickole] had quit her job of 14 years to do that. Basically, after working for Thrive full-time for a month, selling vitamin patches and shakes, the company apparently wanted to give Atkinson a car to reward her for her hard work.
The Discovery Documents, however, disagree with Shan’ann’s claim that Nickole had quit her job in May or June 2018.
Here it is:
On August 21, when detective Baumhover contacted Atkinson, she was getting ready to do a night shift as a nursing assistance at Mesa Vista Nursing Home in Boulder, a short drive west of Frederick and Erie.
In the video, Atkinson mentions using her auto bonus to get a Tesla, but it’s clear in the crime scene footage that she’s still driving a white
Mazda Dodge GT more than six weeks after the rooftop video was recorded.
We know that Chris Watts had received an auto bonus as well, yet in spite of Shan’ann’s grandstanding on social media in May that she was shopping for a new Lexus for him, on his behalf, he never acted on his auto bonus either.
But Shan’ann was using Chris Watts’ Facebook as an additional “profile”, if you will, to market, promote and sell Thrive products. So his auto bonus, was actually hers.
But that exposes the above spiel as more than a little misleading. If Shan’ann was speaking on Watts’ behalf, telling everyone he was shopping for a new luxury car, when it was actually her auto bonus, her business, and her aspirations [or promotional aspirations], then she was representing an acquisitive ability that wasn’t merely a gross exaggeration, we’re able to see in the discovery dump that it wasn’t true.
Put simply, Shan’ann was advocating spending beyond their means as a way of promoting a product, and using the idea of living beyond one’s means [as a sort of dream-come-true fantasy] as a sales hook. In other words, her sales pitch was essentially to lure others into spending beyond their means as well. Quit your job – like I have – get free stuff, live the glamorous life, and…have no money at the end of it.
In one of the few instances where the Discovery Documents do deal with the Watts finances in some detail, notice the manner in which Watts cagily frames the situation around the Lexus.
It’s “their” car, not Shan’ann’s car, and it’s not a lease, it’s paid for by the company.
This is Watts doing a Thrive spiel to the cops, only, a police interrogation is where pitching fairy tales no longer works.
In reality, the Lexus wasn’t paid for by anyone, it belonged to the leasing company.
Now, it’s probably important to head off the counters to these counters, one of them being that the Watts vehicle was part of a hire-purchase arrangement, and that eventually they would become the owners of the vehicle.
One way to address that, besides through the semantics in the Discovery Documents [the word “lease” isn’t used multiple times accidentally], is to look at former employees and to see what they say about their experience with MLMs. So there’s not a lot of information out there from disgruntled employees, but there is some, like this, posted on Reddit in 2017.Of course, former employees are contractually and legally obligated not to disclose sensitive information, and if they do, they can be – and often are – sued.
But Thrivers don’t pose around fancy cars, and post themselves doing that on Facebook, do they?
According to lazymanandmoney.com, Le-Vel/Thrive aren’t unique in using the luxury car lure as bait. It’s pretty much standard practice when it comes to MLM companies:
The dirty little secret promoters won’t tell you, is that far from the auto bonus being a reward for hard work, the promoters are required to get a lease when they reach a particular milestone. This obligation then infects that person’s social network, as everyone goes gaga about X’s brand new car and the wonderful company X works for. It’s marketing gold, and it mainlines into the greed/envy/ego aspect of a person.
At 5:37 in the clip above, HBO’s John Oliver refers to the “dangling of vast lifestyle improvements”, especially flashy cars, and luxury travel, as being “at the heart of the MLM pitch.”
A cursory glance at Shan’ann’s Facebook profile provides confirmation of this. She uses almost every Live pitch to punt the lifestyle perks – flexi hours, better health, wealth, holidays and overall luxury. [Meanwhile, her credit cards are maxed out, she’s about to lose her house,and tragically in Shan’ann’s case, her life].
An argument can be made that Shan’ann started losing her life before she died. That she was so caught up in something, it swallowed her up, and encouraged the swallowing up and wholesale consumption of others, so that while this was happening, she was blinded to not one, by many obvious realities.
The Lexus is one reality that was employed in the Watts family fairy tale to convey an alternative reality.
The white Lexus in the Watts’ garage was a beautiful lie, and each day, that beautiful lie propelled Shan’ann and her two beautiful children through their days. Unbeknownst to them, the beautiful lie was slowly but surely conveying them – and their murderer – to an ultimate destination: permanent ruin.
Ironically, since Shan’ann’s nightmarish murder and burial on a leased oil site, rather than taking a knock, Thrive seems to have reaped a whirlwind of “positive” publicity.
Millions of curious Americans have visited Shan’ann’s still public page since August 13th, and in the process of getting to know her by watching her videos, millions have been pitched.
A sizable fraction of those visitors have undoubtedly converted into the Thrive fairy tale. Think about it. Thanks to Shan’ann’s grotesque death and dumping of her body “like trash” at CERVI 319, Thrive have likely seen a windfall of sales over the last four months leading up to Christmas.
The Discovery Documents also provide fascinating insight into how Watts changed his parking habits at the time of the murders, not only in terms of the truck [which was normally parked to the left of the front door, and Watts typically exited the house through the front door], but the Lexus as well.
And then there’s this. The Discovery Documents are unambiguous about Watts not only backing up his truck onto the driveway on the morning of the disappearance, but that witnesses had observed the Lexus’s rear hatch was open at the same time.
This could mean that one or more bodies were stowed in the boot of the Lexus prior to being transferred to the truck. It’s also possible then, that one or more of the bodies wasn’t carried outside in plain sight, but transferred instead in the semi-enclosed garage area, in the blind area of Trisnatich’s camera [in other words, from the Lexus hatch to the very rear of the truck].