Yahoo! Tried To Screw Their 'Yodel' Guy

You can almost certainly recite the famous "Ya-HOOOO-oo!" of all those late '90s/early 2000s Yahoo! commercials, but you've probably never given much thought to the guy behind the yodel. Probably just some random voice actor squeezing in a jingle between phone sex gigs, right? Nope. Wylie Gustafson is the real deal: An honest-to-god cowboy from a long line of Montana cattle ranchers and probably the most successful yodeler in the world.

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While you were playing video games, Gustafson was studying the art of the yodel. Hours and hours a day, he studied it. He's written two books on the subject, somehow having not gotten it all out in the first. By 13, he'd perfected the many and varied styles of yodeling that apparently exist. At 25, he moved to Los Angeles to try his hand at the music business and quickly became the advertising industry's go-to yodel guy, appearing in commercials for everyone from Miller Lite to Disney.

That's all to say that when he got the offer to record a one-off regional spot for some tech startup, it was just another job to him. He spent about 10 minutes laying down dozens of different yodels and accepted his payment of $590.38, which wasn't unreasonable for a single regional commercial.

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When he heard his yodel during the Super Bowl, though, he started to suspect he'd been ripped off. Sure enough, it started appearing everywhere, which was *not* cool: If he'd agreed to a national campaign, it would have entitled him to some hefty residuals instead of one triple-digit check. He politely wrote to the ad agency about it, and they responded by sending a single additional check of $590.38, so he sued for $5 million.

Gustafson eventually settled with Yahoo! for an undisclosed sum somewhere between $590.38 and $5 million, but whatever it was, it was enough to cover his cowboy dreams. He was free from the necessity of supporting himself as a touring musician, spiffed up his ranch, and even got inducted into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame, which is apparently a thing. Basically, he's living the life exalted by every country song, all because some rich nerds took him for a dumb hick.

Top image: Yodelking59425/Wikimedia Commons

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