Cover art for podcast Spectacular Failures

Spectacular Failures

24 EpisodesProduced by American Public MediaWebsite

Corporate crookedness. Family feuding. Hilariously half-baked decisions. Host Lauren Ober tackles some of the most spectacular business failures of all time, and what could have been done to avoid them. Some of these stories are shocking. Some are funny. Some are just downright sad. But each one wil… read more

24 Episodes | 2019 - 2022

Introducing Spectacular Failures

May 30th, 2019


Corporate crookedness. Family feuding. Hilariously half-baked decisions. Host Lauren Ober tackles some of the most spectacular business failures of …

A Christian theme park plunges into scandal

June 17th, 2019


How Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s wildly popular Christian theme park was upended by fraud, scandal and lavish spending.

You can follow Spectacular …

MoviePass begins with plenty of drama

June 24th, 2019


Unlimited movie theater tickets for $9.99 a month? It sounds too good to be true and, well... it might be.

You can follow Spectacular Failures on

Schlitz Beer goes bad, then worse

July 1st, 2019


"The beer that made Milwaukee famous" cuts corners. And loses its most loyal customers.

You can follow Spectacular Failures on Twitter and Facebook

A funeral industry giant keels over

July 8th, 2019


A family-owned business fights a billion-dollar, multinational company. And wins.

You can follow Spectacular Failures on Twitter and Facebook using …

Kodak misses its moment

July 15th, 2019


The world's largest photography company pioneers the snapshot, invents the digital camera and... declares bankruptcy.

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Family fighting sends U-Haul on a detour

July 22nd, 2019


Failed therapy sessions, fistfights in the board room and even murder accusations. U-Haul’s trip to bankruptcy will make you think twice about mixing …

The inferno that transformed American labor

July 29th, 2019


The aftermath of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire helped usher in higher wages, safer conditions and a prohibition on child labor. But the problems that led to the fire haven’t gone away. Not even close.

You can …

Lincoln Savings loses it all

August 5th, 2019


Charles Keating robbed working people of their life savings and cost taxpayers billions of dollars. All under the watch of powerful politicians.

You …

Toys R Us goes bust

August 12th, 2019


No amount of nostalgia could save Toys R Us from the private equity firms that owned it.

You can follow Spectacular Failures on Twitter and Facebook

Trump's big gamble on Atlantic City

August 19th, 2019


By the time the final dice were thrown, Trump's Atlantic City casino operations had gone bankrupt six times. Despite that, Trump won the long game.

Spectacular Failures - Season Two

July 20th, 2020


Spectacular Failures is back for season two, starting August 3rd! 2020 has been a year of fail. Global pandemic, check. Economic meltdown, check. …

Blue Apron wilts, then rises to a new challenge

August 3rd, 2020


The meal kit delivery service was almost belly-up before the pandemic hit. But then people stuck cooking at home gave the brand a lifeline. Investors found it tastier than ever, but will customers still hanker for the …

Forever 21 goes from rags to riches to bankruptcy court

August 10th, 2020


The mom-and-pop fast-fashion retailer exploded into malls across the globe. But eventually, Forever 21 unraveled like the hem on a cheap crop top.

Our sponsors this week:
Fiverr: promo code SPECTACULAR

The curtain falls on a big Broadway company

August 17th, 2020


Livent was a showstopper of an operation. But eventually, forgery and fraud stole the scene, the money exited stage left, and the lead actor landed …

The toxic tale of the Love Canal fail

August 24th, 2020


When Hooker Chemical sold its infamous toxic waste landfill to the Niagara Falls School Board, the $1 deal left Niagara residents seriously ill. But …

Napster fought the law and the law won

August 31st, 2020


The recording industry, Metallica, and ultimately federal court put the brakes on Napster’s music file sharing. But before exiting the stage, Napster …

A dairy giant gets milked

September 7th, 2020


Got milk? These days, chances are maybe not. Americans have been saying no thanks for years now, and changing consumer tastes have been bad news for what used to be the nation’s largest milk processor, Dean Foods.

Sign …

Pan Am hits major turbulence

September 14th, 2020


Pan Am made air travel cool—from chic crew uniforms to exotic locations to square-jawed flyboy pilots. But a couple of bad business deals, massive …

Subprime times at Countrywide Financial

September 21st, 2020


Before the housing bubble burst, Countrywide Financial was one of the nation’s largest home mortgage lenders. But after years of predatory lending …

NYC Taxi Medallions' steep fare

September 28th, 2020


Even before Uber and Lyft pulled into town, NYC yellow cabs were having a rough ride. Reckless lending practices and inflated taxi medallion prices …

Sqirl finds itself in a jam

October 5th, 2020


The Los Angeles restaurant Sqirl had lines down the block for brunches that featured its famous house-made jams on toast. But then a photo of …

Listen to This: What's Your Problem?

March 25th, 2022


You may know Jacob Goldstein as the former host of the Planet Money podcast. Now, he’s combining his expertise about the money and business worlds …

Listen to This: The Loudest Girl in the World

September 12th, 2022


The Loudest Girl in the World is a new podcast from  that tells the story of Lauren Ober's journey to understand what the hell it means to be on the autism spectrum and how to live life as a newly diagnosed autistic …

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