Tools

The man behind "the Governator"

With one week to go until California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger leaves office, one man from Placer County is saying good-bye and thanks. The man behind the "governator" has made a fortune.

Now on everything from shot glasses to coffee mugs to ball-caps and breath mints, the term "the governator" first popped into Ron Trejo's mind seven years ago.

When Schwarzenegger announced he was running for governor on the Jay Leno Show.

Ron Trejo says and Jay said, "somebody's going to make a million dollars on that. And I said, "you're right. Somebody always does."

That night with the internet and a $435 filing fee, Trejo registered "The Governator" as an official trademark with the U.S. Government.

Within months, governator items were selling in souvenir shops and airport gift stores all across California. Eventually, Trejo says he sold 300,000 t-shirts alone and made enough money to buy a new house.

Ron says "realistically over the seven years I hit seven figures with it."

In 2005, as Schwarzenegger's prepared to run for re-election, his lawyers approached Trejo. After a series of negotiations Trejo describes as friendly, they entered into an official partnership.

Trejo got permission to use the official Terminator picture. Schwarzenegger got a cut of the profits, which he donates to his charity for after-school programs.

Also as part of the deal, Trejo agreed to add another "r", making "govenator" into "governator". He says the governor's lawyer felt that was more grammatically correct.

Governator bobble-heads are already out of production. Trejo says he'll probably shut down the rest of the business over the next few months.

Ron says "for me it's been a fun experience. Really has been. I met a lot of people. It put me in areas where I haven't been before."

A middle-of-the-night idea turned into a million dollars. Trejo's one regret: he never got to meet the man to whom he owes so much.

What's On