Pitchmen’s Billy Mays died Sunday morning

Billy Mays, the infomercial star who’s currently on Discovery’s reality series Pitchmen, died early this morning. He “was found dead this morning by his wife at his Tampa home,” the St. Petersburg Times reported, adding that “No cause of death has been reported and no foul play is suspected, according to Tampa police.”

Perhaps coincidentally, Saturday, the man known for pitching OxiClean, Kaboom, OrangeGlo, and other products, was on a Philadelphia to Tampa US Airways flight “that had a front tire blow out” and “Mays and other passengers were interviewed by US Airways staff after the Philadelphia flight’s hard landing,” the paper reported, but those interviewed “reported no injuries.”

Billy Mays’ wife, Deborah Mays, said in a statement, “Although Billy lived a public life, we don’t anticipate making any public statements over the next couple of days. Our family asks that you respect our privacy during these difficult times.”

The Mays’ 22-year-old son, Billy, has been Twittering about his dad’s death, however. He wrote, “My dad didn’t wake up this morning.. I’m sure you’ll all hear about it. It hasn’t yet hit me but it’s about to,” and later wrote, “On my way to the house. He’s gone. I’m gonna be strong for him. Thank you for all the thoughts and prayers everyone.”

The reality series Pitchmen, a 13-episode series that follows Mays and Anthony “Sully” Sullivan hearing pitches and creating infomercials, airs its 12th episode Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET, and the first two episodes will be repeated first starting at 8. The two men appeared on the Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien Tuesday to talk about the series. The show’s network, the Discovery Channel, said in a statement,

“It is with incredible sadness that we have to report that Billy Mays died in his sleep last night. Everyone that knows him was aware of his larger-than-life personality, generosity and warmth. Billy was a pioneer in his field and helped many people fulfill their dreams. He will be greatly missed as a loyal and compassionate friend. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family at this time of incredible loss.”

TV pitchman Billy Mays found dead in Tampa home [St. Petersburg Times]

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about the writer

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, 36, 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.