Ryan Reynolds offers free wireless from Mint Mobile

Actor/producer Ryan Reynolds is a majority owner of Mint Mobile

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A year ago, a small wireless startup from Costa Mesa, California, seeking to grow its business, spent $5 million to introduce itself to the world on the 2019 Super Bowl game with a 30-second ad. 

The pitch: a super low-cost alternative to the hundred dollar plus wireless packages from Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint. Instead, full service starting at $15 monthly. The catch: Less data is available, but it’s cheap. 

So cut to a year later, and MintMobile isn’t returning to the Super Bowl, which kicks off Sunday with a host of broadcast and streaming options to watch. And the firm has a new “owner” in actor Ryan Reynolds, best known for movies like “Deadpool” and “The Proposal.” 

Reynolds this year is pitching a new deal – three months of free service, but only if you sign up during a certain time period. Like during the game itself. 

Actor/producer Ryan Reynolds is a majority owner of Mint Mobile

The actor, in a full-page ad that ran in the New York Times this week, explained why he’s ditching spending another $5 million to be on the Bowl. 

Instead of spending $5 million, “we could literally give away over 300,000 months of free service and still save money. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.” 

Hype about the largest audiences in TV land (the Super Bowl averaged nearly 100 million viewers in 2019) brings out companies appealing to that most basic consumer desire – to save money. This week, another wireless firm, TextNow, announced plans for a totally free phone service, with a catch. Unlimited calls and texts, with ads, but no web surfing unless you’re willing to pay a minimum of $9.99 monthly. 

Which is less than Mint’s starter price of $15.

David Glickman, the founder and CEO of Mint, says the $5 million spent for last year’s ad was worth it. “It paid for itself economically. It brought us so many new customers and the halo of being a Super Bowl advertiser carried through to new partnerships.”

Like an alliance with Reynolds, who Glickman says is a “majority owner,” sharing shares with Glickman himself. (He declined to reveal how much Reynolds paid for his stake.)

Ryan Reynolds leads a team of highly skilled international operatives who the world thinks are dead in Michael Bay's Netflix action movie "6 Underground."

Reynolds tells USA TODAY that he hooked up with Mint through founder David Glickman, whom he knew from their work together at the Michael J. Fox foundation charity. Glickman, the actor recalls, “was relentless in asking me to try Mint Mobile and like most people, I thought, “How can cell service so inexpensive be any good?”

He relented, gave it a shot, liked it, and then “it kind of got in my head of how unusual it would be for a celebrity to buy a telecom company and how much I liked the mission of making cell service more affordable on a mass scale and to use celebrity to elevate something so pragmatic.”

Reynolds, who replied to questions from USA TODAY via e-mail from the set of his new Netflix film, “Red Notice,” currently in production, says he’s very involved in the firm, “especially in business strategy and marketing.”

Beyond acting, Reynolds also has a production company, Maximum Effort and owns a gin company, Aviation Gin, as well. 

“We create movies, TV shows, marketing content and have bet big on gin cocktails and now cell service,” he says. “These things seem pretty disparate, but when done very well, they are all highly collective experiences that can bring people together in a world that seems to generate more and more ways to drive us apart.”

Glickman says Reynolds gives the brand visibility to an audience “we couldn’t reach before.” (The actor has a combined 50 million-plus followers on Twitter and Instagram, compared to just over 40,000 for Mint Mobile.) The Mint motto is that with an unlimited data plan, we pay for service we don’t use or need. Even for an actor like Reynolds, who Glickman says is surrounded by Wi-Fi. 



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