Revolving around the incredibly baffling criminal case of Sarma Melngailis, there’s no denying that Netflix’s ‘Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.‘ is a docuseries that breaks every bound of the true-crime genre. After all, it delves deep into how her involvement with Anthony Strangis (or Shane Fox) allegedly led her to go from being the queen of vegan cuisine to a felon who defrauded both her employees as well as her investors.
From promises of pet immortality and financial stability to talks of ethereal existence and a mysterious military profession, Sarma essentially details every one of her former partner’s claims in this four-parter. So now that we know much more about her bizarre ordeals and the massive amount she embezzled from her businesses, let’s take a look at precisely what she earned through this global Netflix extravaganza, shall we?
How Much Did Sarma Get Paid by Netflix?
Sarma Melngailis had it all at one point: an Ivy League degree, a perfect companion in her pet dog Leon, trustworthy employees, and her Pure Food and Wine and One Lucky Duck restaurants. However, she lost almost everything, along with her reputation, as per the series, once Anthony Strangis came into the picture and drove her to steal nearly $1.6 million from staff and financiers alike. This reportedly includes theft of $844,000 from investors, $400,000 in sales tax, and around $40,000 in employee wages.
With that said, it appears as if the once renowned restauranter made the best of the opportunity in hand and paid off her former employees in full through her participation in ‘Bad Vegan’ — she didn’t financially benefit otherwise. “It’s standard practice – to say nothing of journalistic integrity – that subjects do not get paid for participation in documentaries, at least not the reputable ones,” Sarma wrote on her website on March 16, 2022.
She continued, “In my case, however, and at my insistence, the producers made an exception so that I could pay the total amount my former employees were owed — amounts that accrued after my disappearance in 2015. Of all the harm and the many debts resulting from my downfall, this portion weighed heaviest.” Sarma further admitted she’s “humiliated” by her past actions of basically abandoning them, yet she’s now working hard to be better and more self-aware, all the while trying to clear the remaining debts.
“In exchange for the source materials and images I contributed to the documentary,” the convicted felon additionally penned, “the producers paid an attorney on my behalf who then, on the same day… [back in 2020] wired full payment directly to the attorney representing the employees. (While the funds bypassed me entirely, I did declare them for income tax purposes, just to be clear). The point is… beyond getting former employees repaid, I did not otherwise profit from ‘Bad Vegan.’ Netflix and/or the producers can confirm this.”
In short, Sarma did not take home a single penny from the production that brought her and Anthony Strangis’ bewildering case back into the spotlight. We should even mention that she has since clarified she is not in touch with her ex-husband in any way, shape, or form.