When I first heard the news that Subway’s Jared Fogle had confessed to having sex with minors and possessing child porn, like most sub-sandwich-loving Americans I was shocked.
But I also wasn’t entirely surprised that he had a secret sleazy side. That’s because 10 years ago, while he was married to his first wife and I was married to my (first, current, and only) husband, Jared Fogle hit on me.
Back then I was a 23-year-old Arizona State University journalism student and part-time sales assistant at Phoenix’s ABC-15 television station. Part of my job consisted of “meeting and greeting” the paid advertisers who purchased appearances on the morning show Sonoran Living.
One day in the fall of 2005, the client was Subway, and the celebrity guest was Jared Fogle. He arrived at the station carrying a pair of size-60 pants — which he used to demonstrate the 245-pound weight loss he'd achieved while exclusively dining on Subway sandwiches. Trailing behind Jared was a Subway corporate publicist snapping photos with her camera.
I greeted them both politely with an enthusiastic, 23-year-old-working-at-her-first-real-job smile. And while awaiting Jared’s appearance in the green room, I chatted with him about his trip to Arizona, the weather, and, of course, Subway.
“Do you have to carry those pants everywhere?” I asked.
“Pretty much every city I travel to,” he replied with a shrug.
Soon, Jared was called to the set, where he sat on the couch with the hosts discussing the Subway diet and his charity. At some point, he held up his enormous pants.
“Those used to fit you?” gasped one of the hosts.
When the segment was over, Jared rejoined me, and I escorted him and his publicist out of the station. Before he left, the publicist snapped a quick photo of the two of us. I posed with my arm around Jared, my hand on his back. Through his shirt I could feel loose flesh hanging from his frame — the result of rapidly losing hundreds of pounds (they don’t mention that part in the commercials).
As he was exiting the building, he looked back and glanced at the name badge around my neck. “Thanks again, Shanna,” he said.
I returned to my cubicle upstairs, and he left to plug Subway sandwiches in some small city.
The next morning when I showed up at the office, I had a message on my work voicemail. It was Jared. He told me how much he enjoyed meeting me and wanted me to call him back.
I hadn’t given him my number — he had called the station and asked for me.
I returned his call, expecting he may have forgotten something or possibly wanted a tape of his appearance. Instead, he wanted to chat. The conversation was innocent, and he seemed polite. Even though Jared bragged about his wealth and celebrity — talking about all the famous people he'd met — I found him charming.
Still, I wondered why in the world he was calling me. I told my colleague who sat at the cubicle across from me, and we agreed it was just weird.
“Isn’t he married?” my co-worker asked.
I vaguely remembered a commercial that featured his wife. Later, I looked it up and confirmed he was indeed married. So why did he want to talk to a 23-year-old college student from Phoenix?
It seemed like he was flirting with me, but I thought it would be arrogant to conclude that he wanted anything other than to talk. But while initially I may have been a bit flattered, I also didn't find him attractive. And as a married woman, the unwelcome attention made me uncomfortable. During the first phone call, I made sure to mention my husband as a signal to him that I wasn't interested.
He didn't get the hint and continued to call me. He told me he was returning to Phoenix for a NASCAR event and wanted to hang out while he was in town.
I had no desire to see Jared again, and when I told my husband about his invitation, he said the guy was a sleaze.
Jared’s last phone message confirmed my husband’s assessment.
After 10 years, I don’t remember the exact details of the message. But I recall his mentioning how pretty and interesting he thought I was and that he wanted me to meet him at his hotel.
I played the phone message for two of my friends in the office, both whom agreed that he definitely was hitting on me.
“Oh, my God!” one friend squealed. “He’s totally trying to hook up with you.”
I didn’t return that last phone message and never heard from Jared Fogle again.
Ten years passed. He divorced, remarried, and had children, all while continuing to make millions as a Subway spokesman. Meanwhile, I graduated ASU, became a journalist, wrote three books, and recently began freelancing for New Times.
For a while, every time I saw a Subway commercial, I cringed. But as time passed, I thought little of Jared until last month when I heard his Indiana home was raided on suspicion he had child porn. Weeks later, he copped a plea for having sex with underage girls and possessing child porn.
Subway fired him, and his wife filed for divorce. He's now on house arrest while he awaits sentencing. According to his plea, he will serve between five and 12½ years behind bars and pay 14 underage victims a total of $1.4 million in restitution.
Hearing the disturbing news, I couldn’t help remembering my peculiar encounter with Jared. I contacted my old friend from Channel 15.
“I totally thought of you when I heard about Jared!” my friend wrote me.
To me, the allegations were stunning and appalling. After all, it's a long leap from trying to cheat on your wife to sex with minors.
Like with the Bill Cosby scandal, I expected other women would come forward to share their own encounters with Jared — stories much more compelling than mine.
So far, however, only one franchise owner has spoken publicly. She says she had an affair with him and later provided tape recordings of their conversations to the FBI.
Assessing the enormity of the charges against him, my story is tame, although I found it interesting to get a glimpse of the way he must have operated.
Considering what's come out in the news, hitting on a married college student must have been a wholesome hookup attempt for Jared Fogle.
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