Wal-Mart sponsoring ABC’s The Scholar.

That soulless and evil behemoth is taking a break from stomping local merchants to death to sponsor an upcoming reality TV show. Wal-Mart will be featured on ABC’s The Scholar, which debuts Monday. The company “is underwriting the cost of the scholarships for the nine runners-up, totaling $300,000,” according to The New York Times.

Like The Apprentice does with its sponsors, Wal-Mart will be woven into the episodes: “In one challenge, the five members of the winning team each receive a $2,000 Wal-Mart gift card to outfit their dormitory rooms,” The New York Times reports. Wal-Mart VP Betsy Reithemeyer said, “We don’t usually do sponsorships of any show, no matter what the format is.” The ABC show was, she says, “different from anything brought to us before” and “a unique way to get out the message on national television that we’re supporting education.”

The sponsorship is costing Wal-Mart “well above six figures,” the company says. In other words, roughly the amount of money it makes in a tenth of a second.

Wal-Mart’s New Realm: Reality TV [New York Times]
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Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 37, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.