The creator of the toy everybody's obsessed with hasn't seen a penny for it


The hot new toy has brought little windfall for its creator
The hot new toy has brought little windfall for its creator

Image: Mashable/Lili Sams

You know that crazy little fidget spinner all the cool kids (and cats, apparently) are whipping around these days? It’s a huge success — but its creator isn’t reaping any of the windfall.

The bane of teachers everywhere, most fidget spinners are relatively cheap. But given how they’re selling like hot cakes, you’d think its creator would be diving into mounds of gold coins like Scrooge McDuck.

Instead, Catherine Hettinger, the inventor of the toy, isn’t collecting any money off her idea. Somehow, she doesn’t really seem to mind. Hettinger, who lives in Florida, held the patent on the toy for years, according to The Guardian, but had to give it up in 2005 because she didn’t have the money for the $400 renewal fee.  

Add that to the fact that she actually pitched the device to toy giant Hasbro 20 years ago and was turned down — though of course Hasbro sells the toy now — and you’d think there’d be a lot of anger on Hettinger’s part.

Facing some financial difficulties of her own, Hettinger admits it would have been nice to have made bank off the toy, telling The Guardian, “I wouldn’t have any problem. That would have been good.”

But whereas you or I would probably be tearing our hair out or wandering the sewers like the Phantom of the Opera in a bitterness-induced rage from losing out on millions, Hettinger is completely chill about the whole thing. 

“Several people have asked me: ‘Aren’t you really mad?’ But for me I’m just pleased that something I designed is something that people understand and really works for them,” she said.

“There’s just a lot of circumstances in modern life when you’re boxed in, you’re cramped in, and we need this kind of thing to de-stress. It’s also fun. That’s the thing about culture, once everybody starts doing it, it’s kind of OK.”

Teachers aren’t exactly sharing Hettinger’s rosy outlook, as the toy has become something of a distraction for students and a nuisance in the classroom. But some believe the spinners could be a useful focusing tool for students with ADHD or autism. 

Whatever the case, know that their creator is totally cool with whatever happens. There’s probably a pretty good lesson right there. 

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