Jim Cramer, Lenny Dykstra Stock Touting Scandal
The stock guru’s top pupil, baseball star Lenny Dykstra, was secretly paid to plug stocks on TheStreet.com and give access to Cramer, reveals Randall Lane in his new book, The Zeroes.
In an era of epically wrong financial predictions, boisterous Jim Cramer’s declaration that “Bear Stearns is not in trouble!” a week before its March 2008 collapse, rated among the most moronic, or at least the most infamous.
But it turns out that Cramer made one call far worse: He decided to make a stock-picking star out of a mumbling former Major League Baseball All-Star named Lenny Dykstra, giving him a high-profile column and ultimately an expensive “premium” newsletter on Cramer’s site TheStreet.com. How did Dykstra return the favor? As I reveal in my book, The Zeroes: My Misadventures in the Decade Wall Street Went Insane, Dykstra took money—$250,000 worth of secretly issued stock—in exchange for recommending that stock to TheStreet.com subscribers. He also promised access to Cramer in exchange for the stock, which he apparently hid under his brother-in-law’s name.
Jim Cramer single-handedly created the concept of Dykstra-as-financial genius. Known mostly for his willingness to crash his body into walls or his cars into trees (nickname: “Nails”), the former New York Met and Philadelphia Phillie became an investment columnist for TheStreet.com in 2005, after sending Cramer an unsolicited email. For the next four years, Dykstra made stock picks, focusing on “deep-in-the-money calls”—a way to buy leveraged options—for tens of thousands of followers on Cramer’s website.
“Not only is he sophisticated, he is one of the great ones in this business,” Cramer told HBO’s Real Sports in 2008. “He is the one of the great ones… a guy who applied the same skills to money that he applied to sports, it’s brilliant.” Cramer added that there are only “four or five” people in the world he would take stock picks from—and Dykstra was one of them