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Top 10 Bizarre Ways To Make Money From Disgusting Habits

by A.C. Lura
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Who of us didn’t grow up being told ‘Don’t chew your nails’ or ‘Stop picking your nose’? Though children may not realize it, the fact is, the human body is fairly nasty and it’s normally a good idea to try to mask our grotesque bodily habits for the good of our social image. Most of us usually grow up and out of our grosser habits by the time we’re adults or at least only indulge in secret. Usually.

But there’s a weird fascination over the disgusting and for some few there’s also fame and fortune to be found behind the stigma. These are ten examples of ways an income has been found from gross habits.

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10 Pooping for Profit and Purpose

There’s a particularly nasty bacteria called C. Difficile that infects nearly half a million people in the United States alone. The symptoms include watery diarrhea and cramping, which can even reach fatal severity. To counteract this dangerous infection, a course of antibiotics is usually prescribed, but antibiotics do not discriminate between harmful and helpful bacteria. During the course of treatment some 2,000 different kinds of stomach bacteria, most very helpful, are also killed. Worse yet, C. Difficile can be difficult to permanently destroy and the tenacious invader will sometimes repopulate even after a course of antibiotics,[1] but there is a solution.

Fecal matter transplants. These transplants are the result of taking the rich gut biome from a healthy human stool sample and distilling it into a pill to be taken by someone suffering from C. Difficile. This replenishes the population of helpful bacteria as well as assisting in the elimination of C. Difficile from the body, but not just any poop can be used for a fecal matter transplant. Out of a thousand prospective donors only 4 perfect of them qualify after rigorous medical testing. Extremely healthy poop is a rare commodity, one worth paying for. Donors can make $250 for five samples a week or $13,000 a year as compensation.[2]

But it isn’t just about the money.

“We get most of our donors to come in three or four times a week, which is pretty awesome,” said Mark Smith, co-founder of a fecal matter transplant company, “You’re usually helping three or four patients out with each sample, and we keep track of that and let you know.”

9 Fast Food and Weight Gain For Science

In 2012 researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis made an unusual offer: gain weight and get paid. Their research into weight related diabetes and hypertension hinged on being able to observe the weight gain in progress. Participants who answered the call to action were asked to consume an extra 1,000 calories of fast food every day in order to put on the pounds. Since the goal was to understand why some people develop these adverse health conditions it meant that the participants who gained this weight would likely be putting themselves in increased danger of worsening their health. This meant hazard pay.

For meeting the goal of increasing their weight by 5 to 6 percent over the course of 3 months the participants were given up to $3,500. Though it may sound like an easy task, the men and women who joined this project didn’t find it enjoyable for long.

Dr. Samuel Klein, the lead researcher on the project said, “This is not pleasant for them, It’s not easy to stuff your face every day for a long period of time.”

And one of his participants agreed, she said after two weeks, “I could hardly breathe anymore.”[3]

8 Artsy-Fartsy Fame and Fortune

In the late 19th century a boy named Joseph Pujol discovered he had an odd talent while swimming on a trip with his family. During his swim he had an strange cold sensation inside his gut. Panicked, he went ashore to a private place and watched as liters of water evacuated from his rump. His doctor was unworried and so Pujol didn’t think of it again until years later when encouraged by his friends to repeat the feat. It was then he discovered that this wasn’t a one off event. He had the unusual ability to inhale liquid or air into his rear end and release it on command. From that moment on he began to nurture his newfound talent.

Eventually he put his skills on display as a performer, under the name Le Petomane and began putting on shows. He dazzled his audience with an array of different farts, each one described for the benefit of his fans. A small quiet fart he would liken to a bride on her wedding night and then a messy loud slop of a fart was the same woman two weeks later. A prolonged ten second fart was likened to a dressmaker ripping a cloth in two and he even emulated the blast of a canon with a loud burst from his butt.

“People were literally writhing about,” A journalist described the reaction to his performance. “Women, stuffed in their corsets, were being carried out by nurses which the cunning manager had stationed in the hall.”[4]

Later in his act he used his talent to smoke two cigarettes at once. In the rousing finish to the show he would play famous tunes on an ocarina using a hose that channeled his farts into wind for the instrument. Le Petomane became an amazing success and at one point was the highest paid performer in all of France. He stayed in show business until after World War I when he retired from the stage to continue life as a baker. He died at the ripe old age of 88.

After his death a medical school in Paris asked to examine his remains to help better understand how his anus performed the miracles it did. His family declined by saying, “there are some things in this life which simply must be treated with reverence.”[5]

7 Overeating To Success

Everyone loves food, but sometimes we’ll enjoy it a little too much. When our eyes are bigger than our stomach our over consumption can cause an upset stomach, spikes in blood pressure, and lethargy,[6] not to mention regretting whatever decisions took us to that moment.

But some people take that feeling and conquer it. One such man is Joey Chestnut, who is one of the most successful competitive eaters in the world. He has held records and won competitions the world over, including the feats of eating 32 double patty hamburgers in 38 minutes, eating 74 hotdogs in 10 minutes, and 413 chicken wings in 12 hours.[7]

His skills at overeating aren’t for nothing. In 2010 Mr. Chestnut earned $218,500 for his eating prowess.[8] Though he admits that it isn’t always easy. After setting a new world record for hotdog eating in 2018 he said about his body afterward, “It’s not pretty, bro. There have been some double-flushers.”[9]

6 Burping For Cash

Belching is a sport. The current record for length of a burp stands at 1 minute, 13 seconds, and 57 millisecond. This colossally long belch has gone unchallenged since 2009.[10] A glorious sport it is, but not really one that pays. To make any money in this competitive field requires being in the right place at the right time. For some fortunate few woman the right place was St. Louis and the right time was in 2014. The call went out for actors to star in a soda company’s new commercial and the skill they needed above all else: burping.[11]

An ad went up on Craiglist offering to pay $750 for each actor as well as drinks and snacks provided on the day of filming to help coax out the necessary belches.

“Burps of any size are welcome, from small, quiet burps to monstrously loud belches,” The ad read. Thankfully no previous acting experience was required.[12]

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5 Professionally Popping Pimples

Welcome to My Channel! Dr. Sandra Lee (aka Dr. Pimple Popper)

The standard recommendation for pimples is to resist the urge to pop them ourselves, but rather to find an over the counter solution and failing that, to visit a doctor for help. They are after all trained and can perform any required popping in a sterile environment.[13] Most of us ignore this advice. Despite the risks of scarring or infection, popping our zits is a satisfying, if disgusting experience. Unlike most items on this list though, being employed to perform this task isn’t a limited opportunity career. There are tens of thousands of people being paid to do this disgusting deed. They are skin specialist doctors called dermatologists.[14]

Not only is this a lucrative career path on its own, paying on average $345,000 a year in the United States,[15] some doctors take it a step further. Doctor Sandra Lee (aka: Dr. Pimple Popper) hosts a Youtube channel where she displays particularly difficult or fascinating dermatological cases. The channel has more than 6 million subscribers.[16]

When describing why anyone would want to watch something so gross as the usual fare on her channel she said, “It’s part fascination, part can’t look away, not unlike watching a car accident. There’s also something satisfying in the resolution, like something is being removed that shouldn’t be there and now the skin has been cleansed of an impurity.”[17]

4 Money in Exchange For Spit

When researchers are trying to make genetic discoveries, the classic approach would be to find people with the disease then look for differences between their DNA and the DNA of someone without the disease. This can be an intensive process to find, communicate with, and finally sample the subject’s DNA for the research. In other cases, some companies rely on huge collections of DNA, with associated data on the donors, to accurately trace the ancestry of a customer, but it can be difficult to maintain a library of DNA from all types of people the world over. People don’t usually line themselves up to give away DNA samples for free.

The answer to these troubles is used by such companies as Genos and DNASimple. These companies will pay you for your spit, or more precisely, the DNA contained within your spit and information about yourself. This data can be used to help match researchers with the right DNA donors easier. DNASimple pays a flat rate of $50 per sample and Genos offers to sequence your genome for around $500 and will then pay you $50—$200 if you’re DNA can be used for a scientific study. While not a livelihood, there is more and more money to be made from people’s spit. DNASimple secured a $200,000 start up loan from an investor in recent years and the industry is growing.[18]

While some are frustrated with the idea of being paid to participate in research, Sharon Terry, CEO of the Genetic Alliance described the situation by saying, “Some people might think it’s bad to put any kind of commerce in health at all, but it’s already in there. We just don’t have any part of it, we patients. Everyone else makes a lot of money.”[19]

Perhaps the time has come to finally sell a valuable commodity we didn’t know we had—our spit.

3 Bathroom Scouters Paid To Pee

We all need to use the bathroom, usually a few times a day, but sometimes desperately. When we’re in a new city or an unfamiliar part of town and the urge strikes, where do we go? Where’s the nearest bathroom? Will it be clean? Is there a bidet or toilet paper? Do they charge? There’s no time to answer these questions when we’re holding back the floodgates! And with no guidance there’s no telling what unholy gas station horror or side of the road bush we may be forced to use.

It turns out, knowing the location and quality of nearby bathrooms is a service worth paying for and there are apps that will indeed pay for that kind of information. One app called Toiletfinder paid $20 for some restroom reviews and $100/week for regular copy writers. Writers contribute anonymously so that their subject matter can’t be used against them by friends and family (what’s wrong with writing about pee?). Reviews are accompanied by a star rating from the reviewer and GPS location to help future bathroom goers to find the right place at the right time.[20] Apps like this and other have hundreds of thousands of bathrooms logged and reviewed the world over.[21]

2 Regurgitating A Living

No one. No one likes to vomit. The acid, the half digested food, the smell—Nothing about the experience is enjoyable and this disgusting bodily function is something most of us would do all in our power to avoid. What goes in should not come back out the same way, but for one man, regurgitating what he had swallowed was a novelty he discovered as a child when he needed to hide coins from other children. It turns out, no one looks for your money in your stomach. He soon found that he could easily bring back up just about anything.

This was a skill he put to good use in show business. Mr. Stevie Starr has used his ability to put on acts on television shows like America’s Got Talent and late night programs with Jay Leno and David Letterman as well as live tours. Among the objects he swallows are light bulbs, coins, thumbtacks, and billiard balls,[22] but a performance of just swallowing and unswallowing would quickly grow redundant. Taking it to higher levels, he also swallows a cup of sugar, followed by a cup of water, then he’ll regurgitate the sugar—dry as a bone. He’ll also swallow ten numbered coins then ask the audience to choose the order they return, sometimes two at a time. What he swallows and regurgitates isn’t limited to the inanimate. In some performances he’ll consume two live fish at the start of the show and bring them back out, perfectly healthy, at the end.[23]

Vomiting up the contents of our stomach is usually the worst way to spend an evening, but watching someone else do it is well worth the money Mr. Starr earns.

1 Professional Finger Licker Wanted

In polite company, licking our fingers after a meal is usually frowned upon, but for a company that has advertised “finger licking good chicken” for years the habit was a badge of honor. The restaurant chain Kentucky Friend Chicken has recently started a campaign to find the most highly qualified finger licker in the world to be the new face for their upcoming ad series. Their announcement on twitter asked, “Have you ever caught yourself licking your fingers and thought to yourself ‘I’d look decent doing that on a billboard?’”


This ongoing search is asking perspective professional finger lickers to submit a twitter with the hashtag #KFCFRYERME with an 280 character or less explanation of why their finger licking skills are worthy of the cause.[24] Unlike so many items of this list, this one could still be about you.

In a follow up tweet to the announcement KFC added, “For the love of God; please keep it PG.”[25]

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fact checked by Jamie Frater