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11 Things That Were Hugely Hyped But Then Massively Flopped

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Vote up the letdowns that still disappoint you.

We've all had a good idea at some point in our lives, as well as a terrible idea (or 20). Most of the time, these fleeting lightbulb moments don't come to fruition. But if you're a celebrity, successful company executive, or military commander-in-chief, sometimes no one is willing or able to tell you "no." These fearless founders and creatives weren't afraid to think big - and fail big. While their ideas range from the ingenious to the absurd, the problem was usually in the execution.

Expectations were set exceedingly high, but in the end, they just couldn't deliver. Vote up the historical instances of things that failed (miserably) to live up to the hype.

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  • Fyre Festival Promised Glamour And Delivered The Opposite
    Video: YouTube

    In 2017, thousands of eager festivalgoers flocked to the Bahamas for what was supposed to be a luxury-filled weekend of partying with Instagram influencers and listening to big-name artists like Migos, Blink-182, and Tyga.

    Instead, festival attendees found themselves stuck camping out in a makeshift construction site on rain-soaked mattresses and eating cold bread-and-cheese sandwiches. The headlining acts and A-listers were nonexistent.

    It turned out that festival organizer Billy McFarland had spent a great deal of money promoting the festival (flying out famous supermodels for a video shoot) and less time actually planning it. McFarland had spent about six to eight weeks planning a seriously involved endeavor that would really take at least a year to pull off.

    While McFarland has described Fyre Festival as merely a case of biting off more than he could chew, he repeatedly lied to investors and misled ticket-buyers about the festival. He also ended up stiffing many of the Bahamian vendors who contributed their services to the event. McFarland eventually pled guilty to multiple charges of wire fraud and was sentenced to six years in prison.

  • The Opening Of Al Capone's Vaults Revealed Nothing Inside
    Photo: The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults / Tribune Entertainment
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    The Opening Of Al Capone's Vaults Revealed Nothing Inside

    On April 21, 1986, millions of TV viewers tuned in live to watch host Geraldo Rivera and an excavation crew blast through concrete walls at the Lexington Hotel in Chicago, supposedly to uncover a secret "vault" associated with notorious gangster Al Capone.

    Camera crews and a crowd of excited onlookers (including Mr. T) watched the spectacle from the streets, hoping to catch a glimpse of the cadavers or wads of cash that were sure to be inside. Instead, the contents were a big fat nothing.

    The Lexington was formerly a luxury hotel, opened in 1892 and built for the World's Columbian Exposition the following year. It hosted many famous guests, such as Grover Cleveland and Booker T. Washington, before Capone set up shop in the hotel in 1928. Capone moved his headquarters into the fourth and fifth floors, and supposedly ran the place. Rumors swirled of secret tunnels and storage spaces built to accommodate "Public Enemy No. 1."

    Years before the vault opening, Chicago Tribune journalists had reported on a mysterious 6-by-6-foot concrete-filled space beneath the hotel. A masonry expert believed the shoddy job had been done in the '30s and couldn't explain why it would exist.

    In 1982, a nonprofit began the work of rehabbing the Lexington to its former glory, renewing interest in the alleged vault. A Los Angeles Times piece called it “Chicago’s equivalent of King Tutankhamun's tomb.” Tribune Entertainment picked up the story and signed on Rivera, who'd recently been fired from ABC, as the host for a live excavation.

    Rivera, too, got caught up in the hype, fully expecting the space to contain something. But after the initial blast, the dig wore on and uncovered nothing but a few small glass bottles. Rivera recalled:

    As the program is unfolding and it becomes more and more likely that I'm not going to find anything, there was a terrible, terrible sinking feeling, "My God, the whole world is watching."... As I approached the low point in realizing, recognizing that I'm not going to find anything, I thought that my public life was over.

    After the big letdown, Rivera was so worried that he skipped the after-party to go to a nearby Mexican restaurant and do tequila shots with the excavation crew. But while it may have been a huge disappointment to everyone watching, The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults topped local TV ratings history - three out of four televisions in Chicago tuned into the event, and it was huge nationally, as well. While no one found Capone's money, the ratings still made the event a lucrative endeavor.

    The Lexington Hotel was eventually torn down in the '90s.

  • The Segway Was Supposed To Change The World
    Photo: Roman Zaiets / Shutterstock.com

    In 2001, the tech world broke the news of a top-secret invention created by an eccentric millionaire that would change the world as we knew it. The invention, known only as "IT" at the time, received massive fanfare before most people even knew what IT was. Steve Jobs said IT would be "as significant as the personal computer" and Jeff Bezos called IT "revolutionary."

    In December 2001, inventor Dean Kamen unveiled his creation (literally - it was hidden behind a curtain) on Good Morning America: the Segway. Diane Sawyer's foreboding response? "That's it? That can't be it." 

    The Segway ended up being a massive bust, especially when compared with the grandiose predictions. Founders estimated they would sell 10,000 Segways a week, reaching $1 billion faster than any company had ever done. In reality, the company sold fewer than 10,000 units in the first two years.

    As a new technology, the Segway was innovative. The two-wheeled scooter operated according to movements in the human body. But one of the Segway's biggest problems was that nobody really needed one. It was marketed for general personal transportation when people already used cars or bikes, and weren't willing to drop $5,000 on a scooter they'd have to lug into their office building every day. Plus, American cities weren't designed with the Segway in mind, so there wasn't a viable way to drive, charge, or park it. 

    As Bezos also predicted when he called the product "revolutionary," it was too revolutionary for the USA. Had Segway focused on more niche markets (such as the mall cops who use them today), the company might have had more success introducing the product.

  • Juicero Made An Unnecessary Product
    Video: YouTube
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    Juicero Made An Unnecessary Product

    In 2016, Silicon Valley juice start-up Juicero launched to much anticipation after raising $120 million from investors. But just 16 months later, Juicero had run out of juice - the company became defunct in 2017.

    Juicero was meant to capitalize on the cold-pressed juicing craze. It was a Wi-Fi-connected juicer with accompanying "produce packs" that allowed for "farm to glass" juice. One simply placed their produce pack flavor of pre-chopped fruits and veggies into the Juicero, and the machine would pour out fresh juice at the push of a button. Founder Doug Evans, who likened himself to Steve Jobs, called it "the first at-home cold-pressed juicing system." The sleek $400 machine was supposed to have a pressing power of 3 to 4 tons of pressure - enough to lift two Teslas. 

    In April 2017, however, Bloomberg News released a video that showed Juicero's produce packs didn't require the accompanying $400 machine - you could just squeeze the juice packs by hand into a glass. The company hurriedly pointed out that Juicero had many uses beyond squeezing the juice; it also scanned a QR code on the pack that would tell you if your juice was expired. Or, you could look at the expiration date on the juice pack.

    Juicero quickly became the laughingstock of the start-up world and a perfect example of creating a "solution" to a problem that didn't exist in the first place.

  • Google+, one of the search giant's attempted forays into social media, seemed like a good idea when it launched in 2011. The social network would integrate with all of Google's other services, and allow users to sort their friends into "Circles" for group video chats, or "Hangouts."

    Google+ began as an invite-only platform, a requirement the company may have kept up for too long, because too few people joined or used the social network. Google+ also had strict rules requiring real names only. Turns out, not everyone wants their actual name and email account linked to their social media. These aspects, along with an awkward user experience and interface (instead of "liking" or "favoriting" a post, you had to "Plus One" it), doomed Google+ from the start.

    Also, Google+ was simply too late to the game. By 2011, Facebook and Twitter were already social media behemoths, and Google+ didn't offer anything new. But Google didn't give up on Google+ until 2018, when a bug caused a private data leak. The company assured everyone it was no big deal - no one was using Google+ anyway.

  • In 1992, Pepsi marketing executive David Novak had a lightbulb idea. He'd seen the recent popularity of caffeine-free sodas like Slice, and clear sodas like Clearly Canadian. If he could create a Pepsi-Cola product that was both, surely he'd strike gold.

    The goal was to create a clear, preservative- and caffeine-free soda that tasted similar to original Pepsi. Also of the utmost importance was a clear bottle to show off the new clear look.

    Food scientist Surinder Kumar (the innovative mind we can all thank for Nacho Cheese Doritos), brought in to help with the project, was doubtful for a number of reasons. The brown color of cola prevents sunlight from spoiling the drink, which is why clear drinks like Sprite and 7UP are packaged in green bottles. Also, he was supposed to replicate a clear version of the caramel-flavored Pepsi, yet he wasn't even allowed access to the original Pepsi recipe. Kumar also balked at the idea of marketing Crystal Pepsi as a healthier "pure" alternative to regular colas. Crystal Pepsi had about the same amount of calories and was still made with high-fructose corn syrup.

    Despite these issues, Kumar came up with a recipe, and Crystal Pepsi was rushed to market. A commercial aired during the 1993 Super Bowl, and soon the soda was flying off shelves across the nation. A lot of people wanted to try it - at least once.

    One of the main problems with Crystal Pepsi was simple: It just didn't taste good. Kumar didn't have enough time to perfect the recipe, leaving it with an unusual aftertaste that didn't taste like regular Pepsi. The bottling issue was a problem, too. In the short nine months between Novak's pitch and Crystal Pepsi's launch, the company didn't have enough time to test the product's shelf life. Sunlight, did, in fact, cause Crystal Pepsi to spoil. Dwindling sales proved that while Crystal Pepsi had success as a new fad, consumers quickly returned to drinking their typically brown-colored soda.

    Despite the initial excitement, Crystal Pepsi went down in history as one of the biggest product failures of all time