Jason Matthews, the owner of Bozeman-based Yellowstone Dog Sled Adventures, is starting to think that refusing to do business with the famous Kardashian family was a good business move.
You have probably heard by now that two Kardashian sisters, Khloe and Kim, were involved in a car accident near Bozeman last Saturday. News reports said the sisters were in Montana to do some skiing.
Well, not quite. Matthews said they were here to film an episode of their reality TV show, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”
He knows because around Valentine’s Day, he received an email from Ashley Warner, the production release coordinator for the reality show’s production company. She wanted Matthews to take 10 people from the cast on a sled-tour near Big Sky, and said a film crew of about twice that many people would be tagging along on snowmobiles and snowshoes.
That sounded good to Matthews. He explained that his half-day rate for a private trip, which Warner insisted on, would be $390 per person, or $3,900. Mind you, the trip would have involved five sleds, five guides and 50 sled dogs.
Matthews was a little surprised when Warner offered a “trade” rather than actually paying him. “She never really explained what ‘trade’ meant,” Matthews said, though later emails used the term “exposure trade out.”
At one point Warner even sent him a confidentiality agreement, and he put his foot down.
“I said, ‘I’m not going to sign this until you agree to pay my rate.’”
In the face of his ultimatum, Warner simply stopped communicating. Warner had told Matthews the cast would be in the Big Sky area on Feb. 20 and 21, so as the 20th grew closer he just figured they weren’t interested.
That was the last he knew of the whole thing until Sunday, when he heard about the Kardashian car accident. So he hopped on his personal Facebook page and wrote a short post titled “Montana Karmic Justice.”
He explained how plans to book his dog sled teams were “abruptly cancelled” when he refused to provide the service for free. He said he went online and read that the Kardashian family is being paid $60 million for this season, solidifying his conviction that there shouldn’t have been a problem with his $3,900 fee.
He ended his Facebook post by saying, “Glad we didn’t do it!”
He didn’t look at Facebook again all day because he was preoccupied by the death of one of his dogs, Faith, which he described as “the main leader in my program for many years.”
But when he did get back to Facebook late Sunday, he was astounded to see that his post on the Kardashians was wildly popular. It had been shared more than 1,500 times (up to 1,640 Monday afternoon) and had drawn more than 80 comments, all of them supporting his decision.
Matthews, who said he has never seen an episode of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” said he has appeared on other shows with his sled teams, including “Finding Bigfoot,” “America the Wild” and “Gun It with Benny Spies.”
He put up Facebook posts about those shows, he said, and those posts were shared maybe a dozen times each. With the Kardashians, he’s got the best of both worlds: he didn’t have to go out sledding with the infamous family, but his Facebook post has, sure enough, gotten him great “exposure.”
“I think it’s been better for business that I’m not associated with them,” he said.