Spanx founder gives employees $10,000, 2 first-class plane tickets

ATLANTA — The CEO and founder of Spanx surprised employees last week with a pair of first-class plane tickets and $10,000 each to celebrate a $1.2 billion deal with the investment firm Blackstone.

Sara Blakely shared video Thursday on Instagram showing her employees reacting as she announced the unexpected gifts. She first teased the announcement by spinning a globe.

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“Why am I spinning a globe?” she asked in a sing-song voice. “I’m spinning a globe because to celebrate this moment, I have bought each of you two first-class tickets to anywhere in the world.”

Employees could be heard cheering, and some appeared to cry in response to the announcement.

“You know,” Blakely added. “If you go on a trip, you might want to go out to a really nice dinner. You might want to go out to a really nice hotel. So, with everybody’s two first-class tickets to anywhere in the world, you are each getting $10,000.”

Last week, Blackstone announced it was buying a majority stake in Spanx, with Blakely continuing to run the company’s daily operations alongside her exiting senior management team. At closing, Blakely will become executive chairwoman of the company.

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Blakely founded Spanx in 2000 in Atlanta with $5,000 she earned from selling fax machines in her hometown, Clearwater, Florida, according to WSB-TV and The Wall Street Journal.

“When I started the company in Virginia Highlands on the white board in my room, I wrote a goal down and I said, ‘This company will one day … be worth $20 million,” she said in an emotional speech shared partially on Instagram. “Everybody laughed at me and, you know, I said, ‘I really believe that.”

Spanx began as a shapewear company and has since expanded to sell other undergarments, leggings and activewear across the globe. The company also operates retail shops across the U.S.