America’s Cult Detector, Bob Larson, Helps Us Decide If Mary Kay Is a Cult

Written by Raisinberry

Many years ago, Christian writer, Bob Larson wrote a book to help churches and Pastors identify exactly which religious groups were “cults.” (You have to love the pomposity of placing yourself as judge so you are excluded from the comparison! But I digress.)

Using Bob’s standard of measure, we can ascertain whether Mary Kay Cosmetics qualifies. Wouldn’t that be fun? That way we could once and for all decide, by using the expert in Cult mentality, whether or not what we were indoctrinated into was really a cult or just a bad business model.

Bob Larson, by holding himself up as the chief detector of cults uses the same device that Mary Kay uses to avoid scrutiny. If you hold yourself up as the judge of such things, with the express job of informing the world about their practices, no one ever looks at your deception! You’re in the clear!

Mary Kay’s Directors spare no effort in telling us how our JOBs are the “journey of the broke.” But who is really BROKE? Mary Kay’s Directors tell us that our JOBs are abusing us and not paying us what we are worth! But Grand Prix and Cadillac Directors who have come clean here on Pink Truth tell us that there is no such “executive income” involved except for the tippy top of National Sales Directors, just like any other pyramid scheme. Expenses and chargebacks erode profits making Directorship for 98% of us, a minimum wage job and even worse!

Mary Kay’s Directors sell freedom and flexibility but in reality there is no freedom for the Director who must (I repeat, must) participate in every genius idea her National conjures up, and every corporately sponsored activity, or be frowned upon.

Mary Kay’s Directors tell us that we are running our own business, yet we own nothing, we can make zero marketing decisions, we cant get a Yellow pages ad unless we are a Director and we can’t sell “our business” to anyone as if it had any real value. We have no business at all. What we have are customers (excuse the exaggeration) who are the property of Mary Kay and will be handed off to our Directors the minute we exit.

We are a commissioned sales force with no benefits, except what we pay for… and be advised, you are paying for that car… one way or the other.

To be fair, we wouldn’t want to leave PINK TRUTH out of this cult comparison, because after all, PT might be just another cybercult as well! We all could be jumping out of the pan, into the fire, as it were.

So taking Bob’s book, let’s begin! How to identify a “cult”:

1. Absolute Loyalty. Allegiance to the sect is demanded and enforced by actual or veiled threats to one’s body or eternal spiritual condition.

Now normally I would have said this doesn’t apply, but lately, it does seem that the “talk” is all about Mary Kay Loyalty. In some cases, since we now know the Devil is running PinkTruth, allegiance to Mary Kay is put forth more than ever. After all, MK’s motto is God first, and that is being used to bring about “excellence” in booking selling recruiting and frontloading.

I have heard it said that to deny Mary Kay’s mission is to be fighting against Gods plan in this age. It’s clear the lines are blurry between what is just business, and what is God’s business.

So does Pink Truth demand your utmost loyalty? Nope, you can tell Tracy to pound salt and she pretty much says “have a nice day.” And nowhere in the FAQs of PinkTruth does it say your eternal condition might be hampered by failing to denounce Mary Kay.

I guess I am going to have to score this round as MK – 1 PinkTruth – zero

2. Altered Diet. Depriving one of essential nutrients and enforcing a low protein diet can lead to disorientation and emotional susceptibility.

Again, I was gearing up to say no, doesn’t apply, but then I thought a minute. Doesn’t every single Director taking photos from Seminar take pictures of the Deserts? Don’t we get goodie bags of sugary treats? Its MUFFINS and makeovers..and PIZZA and possibilities. Holy Cats. We are being inundated with carbs! Contrarily, there are no Pinktruth Powdered Donuts for sale on the sideboard icons…nor is PT selling a “No-Protein Cookbook.”

Guess I have to score this MK – 1 Pink Truth – zero

3. Chanting and Meditation. Objective intellectual input is avoided by countering anticult questions with repetitious songs and chants.

“Excuse me miss Director, but I was wondering why we would want to recruit everybody within 3 feet..don’t we need customers to sell this product to?

“Oh Come on Susie, let’s sing another round of Mary Kay Enthusiasm! I’ve got that Mary Kay enthusiasm down in my heart..down in my heart, down in my heart!”

“Oh and by the way…have you been repeating your affirmation 10 times daily? You know you need to do that if you are ever going to break through and reach your goals!”

As to PinkTruth..I am still looking for a theme song or chant, and there was that time when one of our more creative posters wrote a poem everyday, but I still can’t find anything repetitious except “Mary Kay Sucks.” And PT isn’t even the one saying that. So….

Okay this one was easy. Mary Kay – 1 Pink Truth – zero

4. Conformity. Dress language, names, and interests take on a sameness that erodes individuality.

No discourse needed! How’s this for same dress? Earn The Suit, Get in RED! All kinds of Units named Beelievers, and Miracles, and Stars. The avoidance of anybody outside Mary Kay’s belief system, and the wearing of the same clothing to every event!

Well Mary Kay definitely gets one point, But Pinktruth also has t-shirts for sale. There’s about 20 different varieties but none of them are tied to status. And nobody here cares if you wear them or not. In fact individuality is encouraged.

Mary Kay – 1 Pink Truth- Zero

5. Doctrinal confusion. Incomprehensible “truths” are more readily accepted when presented in a complex fashion that encourages rejection of logical thought.

Mary Kay has incomprehensible truths? Hmm. Fake it till you make it, while being a woman of excellence? Be “go give” while at month end, you are getting all you can? We are the number one best selling brand when no one ever counts your retail sales?

On the other hand, PinkTruth lays out business principles that are recognized and touted as foundational, in contrast to MK’s exaggerated “truths” and illogical “training.” Pink Truth asks you to bring your brain to the site. Mary Kay would rather you bring your credit card.

Score Mary Kay – 1 Pink Truth – zero

6. Exclusivity. Those outside the cults are viewed as spiritually inferior, creating an exclusive and self righteous “we” versus “they” attitude.

Holy cow! One thing Mary Kay definitely fosters is the idea that all others outside MK are inferior. Add the Christian component and you have a spiritually inferior mix. PinkTruth doesn’t care what religion you are or if you are none at all. Any woman coming here to get answers, seek truth and heal is encouraged to participate. If you don’t want to participate that’s okay too.

Mary Kay – 1 Pink Truth – zero.

7. Financial involvement. All or part of one’s personal assets may be donated to the cult, increasing vested interest in sticking with it and lessening the chance of returning to a former vocation.

This one ran chills up my spine! The more we bought product the more we felt we had to buy more product. Sticking with it was the only way to recoup our losses! People were encouraged to quit their jobs to break all ties and really get serious about Mary Kay. Time passes and that old vocation looks so far away!

Pink Truth doesn’t want your money and in facts wants you to find your true vocation! Stay here as long as you like and move on when you need to. You are free and we celebrate your freedom.

Mary Kay – 1 Pink Truth – zero.

8. Hypnotic States. Inducing a highly susceptible state of mind may be accomplished by chanting, repetitious singing, or meditation.

“If it is to be it’s up to me! If it is to be it’s up to me!”

Well I don’t know how many consultants chant Mary Kay slogans but we are definitely urged to meditate and visualize our success. The altered state of mind however occurs at SEMINAR and events like Career Conference, retreats, Red Jacket Rallies, and the like. MK loves to whip up the frenzy of tears and joy in order to “sell the sizzle”. PinkTruth might be guilty of creating a “susceptible state of mind” but it is accomplished by evaluation of facts and experienced opinion, so until the PinkTruth Best of Blogging CD comes out, I guess we’ll have to score PT another zero.

Score: MK – 1 Pink Truth – zer

9. Isolation from outside. Diminished perception of reality results when one is physically separated from friends, society, and the rational frame in which one has previously functioned.

Oh brother! Mary Kay loves to “separate” us from those influences in our lives that even attempt to offer us rational thought. That’s why quarterly events are KEY to pulling off this mind control. Monday meeting, weekly conference calls, Saturday brunches, monthly multi-unit gatherings…oh yea, we can check the box on this one. Pinktruth has nothing for you to attend and doesn’t really want you to assemble, except with your family, and encourages you to regain your rational mind.

Score: MK – 1 Pink Truth – zero

10. Lack of Privacy. Reflective critical thinking is impossible in a setting where cult members are seldom left unattended, and the ego’s normal defensive mechanisms can easily be stripped away by having the new member share personal secrets that can later be used for intimidation.

Well we know we gained all that personal stuff in the interview, and the sleepovers definitely open the door to the sharing of intimate personal details, but it is really the group think mentality that blocks the reflective critical thinking that has me worried.

It is a rare corporate event that allows for reflective critical thinking! Your time is scheduled start to finish in a river of indoctrination to the “Mary Kay way”. If you can miss these events you can regain your mental privacy. Concerning PT- each reader is predominately alone and left to consider whatever points are made, and encouraged to offer insights pro or con… just not insults.

Score: MK – 1 Pink Truth – zero

11. Love Bombing. Physical affection and constant contrived attention can give you a false sense of camaraderie.

Mary Kay’s Love Bomb falls with a purpose. Come and get your HUG! Applause and Hugs and Hugs and Applause… You look so great! You are so sharp! We’d LOVE to have you join us! GROUP HUG!!! Yikes.

Pink Truth has nothing for you to join and no reason to lie to you. Whatever affection you feel from an anonymous poster is coming your way because she relates to your pain and your personhood. And should trust be developed, you will find out who she is, and a real sisterhood will be born. PT wants nothing from you except your freedom from manipulation and your rational mind returned.

Score: MK – 1 Pink Truth – zero

12. Megacommunication. Long confusing lectures can be an effective tool if the inductee is bombarded with glib rhetoric and catch phrase.

Megacommunication has to include incessant emails! How does 25 a day sound? And Mary Kay reigns supreme in catch phrases and rhetoric. The long lectures are labeled “training” and are distributed via CDs so you can have a daily indoctrination into Mary Kay thinking.

The only thing confusing about them is that the info shared is rarely a result of personal experience… more like repeating some other Director’s material who is repeating some other Director’s material. The confusing part is rarely does anyone get the same results and the company disclaimer bears witness. Pink Truth communicates right here… and you are welcome to participate or not… visit or not. You won’t get a newsletter or email or be required to sit on a conference call.

Mary Kay – 1 Pink Truth – zero

13. New relationships. Marriage to another cult member and the destruction of past family relationships integrates one fully into the cult “family.”

Thanks goodness we can’t marry each other, but it sure has been recorded here that marriages have broken apart due to climbing the Mary Kay career path. When the “family” encourages you to get rid of unsupportive husbands, I think the same manipulation applies. The misdirection of God, Family, Career makes it appear MK has your family in the 2nd position, but nothing could be further than thetruth! Just try and catch a tournament ball game on Meeting night. Pinktruth makes no recommendation either way and figures you know what’s best for you and your family.

Score: MK – 1 Pink Truth – zero

14. Nonsensical activities. Games and other activities with no apparent purpose leave one dependent upon a group or leader to give direction and order.

There is always a purpose in Mary Kay and that is recruit, recruit , recruit. So every nonsensical activity like, “Shop till you drop,” “Mary Kay Bingo,” zooming around retreat in a cardboard pink caddy, or showing up at Leadership motivational night in a Spangled-Up Pink vest, cowboy hat and pink boa serves to break down your sense of decorum into following the directives of your “leader.” Fun, fun, fun! Girls just want to have fun. Who knew it was step 14 of cult management?

Score: MK – 1 Pink Truth- zero

15. Pavlovian control. Behavior modification by alternating reward and punishment leads to confusion and dependency.

I have been waiting all day for this one. Buddy this one screams Mary Kay!

You are going to work your tail off to not have to be at the bottom of the Scoreboard, humiliated. Move into the Top Ten and you get head table seating at Seminar and a lovely gift. Fail to hang on to that spot and you’r edown on the floor again. Go for your car and you are the director’s best friend! Give it a rest and you’re off the speed dial.… Chase the carrot for the accolades and recognition until you do everything the director says including finishing Queen’s Court on your husband’s credit card! PinkTruth hasn’t issued rewards yet and “punishment” I suppose is only dished out to those who drop the “you’re too lazy to work your business you looser” nonsense, landing them in deleted cyberspace. Rarely does this product behavior modification.

Score: MK – 1 Pink Truth-zero

16. Peer pressure. By exploiting one’s desire for acceptance, doubts about cult practices can be overcome by offering a sense of belonging to an affirming community.

Mary Kay is the epitome of an “affirming community”. And that definitely limits the questions asked about why things are the way they are. By gaining support and friendship for involving yourself in the Mary Kay Dream, you wouldn’t really want to lose it.

Towing the Mary Kay Line becomes the way to show you are one with all the others, and this is peer pressure. Not towing the line, asking the hard questions and exposing the problems gets you tossed out of the group or rejected. Some here are the tossee-s. PinkTruth it would appear isn’t guilty of cult practices according to Bob Larson’s criteria.

Score: MK – 1 Pink Truth – zero

17. Sensory Deprivation. Fatigue coupled with prolonged activity can make one vunerable to otherwise offensive beliefs and suggestions.

Just ask a DIQ if she is finding herself doing some otherwise offensive things as she races with little sleep to directorship! Prolonged activity might be defined a IPAs, Meetings and Appointments to get the numbers in. The mere suggestion to sign up your dead Grandma might make a lot of sense at 6:48 Pm on the last day. Pink Truth is glad to announce that no IPAs are required, and you can sleep anytime you want.

Score: MK – 1 Pink Truth- zero

18. Unquestioning submission. Acceptance of cult practices is achieved by discouraging any questions or natural curiosity that may challenge what the leaders propagate.

Ask your Director what her “average” check is and prepare to have her laser eyes melt your brain. Question your National about why the company doesn’t record or reward actual retail sales yet does Awards Night on pretend retail, and she will have a spontaneous migraine. When you find yourself seated alone at a reserved seating star event, you will have figured it out. Pinktruth says ask any question you like.

Score: MK – 1 Pink Truth – zero

19. Value rejection. As the recruit becomes more integrated into the cult, she is encouraged to denounce the values and beliefs of her former life.

It’s a funny thing how an “I story” is developed and becomes a denouncement of a recruit’s former life and occupation. Over time, as the recruit aims for recognition, status, the suit, wealth and possessions and prizes, these “values” replace contentment, peace, and joy.

In Mary Kay, striving is the only acceptable state of being. Non-striving equates to being a “loser”. If you are happy with what you have, you are in a dead stop. And that is a very bad thing in Mary Kay. Peace and contentment are values you must denounce to make it to the TOP of the MK PYRAMID.

Pink Truth hopes that whatever you decide you want your life to be, brings you happiness.

Score: MK – 1 Pink Truth – zero

So that’s it. Final Score:
Mary Kay – 19
Pink Truth – ZERO

According to the criteria of the World’s Cult Detector, Bob Larson… Is Mary Kay Cosmetics a cult or is Pink Truth a cult?

You are free to use your own brain without manipulation, reprisals, rejection, contrived attention, unquestioning submission, lack of privacy or sugary snacks.


  1. NJK

    I think you’re reaching on #2. Snacks, often high-carb, at a meeting are a staple of modern business. It’s the standard “carrot” to get people to complain a bit less about meeting #23 in a series of a zillion.

    And “Altered Diet” in a cult context usually refers to controlling access to food, not to offering extra food.

    Anyway without it, Mary Kay still scores firmly in “cult” territory.

    1. Lazy Gardens

      ” “Altered Diet” in a cult context usually refers to controlling access to food, not to offering extra food. ”

      Demanding prolonged fasting and extended periods of deficient diets framed as “purification” is how I interpret that one, too.

      1. raisinberry

        You guys are cracking me up…you do know this was meant as a humorous piece…right??

        The main thing is, you do NOT have to fast or alter your diet in any way, to read Pink truth!

    2. PurpleH

      Although, the pathetic meals served at Seminar, and offered as “exclusive rewards” at Career Conference are touted as special & delicious. Brain-washing to believe that those meals are “amazing” and that you need to be there for special achievement is definitely using food as a manipulation tool.

      Seminar in Canada featured Directors’ breakfast of…. muffins & fruit skewers! I’m sure the consultants who slunk out to 7-11 for their meal found much the same selection, and better coffee.

      I never attended Seminar, but did go to Career Conference a few times. No food included with registration, and a short lunch break making it hate to get out for a meal, and an exclusive lunch offered only for achievers. Not a true definition of a cult’s food control, but definitely on the spectrum.

  2. pinkvictim

    Some of these are a bit of a stretch (no, not the end of the quarter type stretch)…

    I’ve been researching the cult topic for a few weeks now. If you really want to understand, read Steven Hassan’s “Combating Cult Mind Control”. As a former Moonie (2-1/2 years, moving up to one of their leaders), and now a licensed therapist with almost 30 years of learning and experience in dealing with cult members, he has developed his BITE model of mind control used by cults (the term “high demand group” is becoming the preferred name). Kaybots fit many of the criteria in all four areas of the BITE model of mind control.

    I am working on a piece about mind control, the BITE model, and how it applies to MKrap and kaybots.

    In the meantime, here’s a couple of vids to get you oriented:

    Additionally, there are tons of vids about how to use mind control to grow your “business” – basically, an admission that undue influence is used to lure people into the scam.

  3. Michael D Schwers

    A very informative article. It is a shame more women don’t read this and realize they’ve been hoodwinked into surrendering their time and money (in this case, my money) to the cult of Mary Kay. My wife recently attended what the kay-bots call “Career Conference.” A 1 1/2 day session at an upscale venue where the true believers gather to reinforce the message of the long since dead false prophet of vanity and greed to “treat” the the malaise among the unwitting sheep which may have set in following the overinflated hype of Seminar last summer. In the last few months, my wife had become very disillusioned with what I term “the scheme” and she calls “a business.” She carries an inventory along with an MK Chase credit card balance of well over $4,500.00 She recently came to me and said: “I think I need to borrow some money to cover the Chase credit card debt.” Here is the breakdown: Total gross sales: $275.00. Amount required to bring account current: $800.00. If I tried to do this with my mortgage lender I would be homeless. A few years ago, I paid off a balance on this Mary Kay Chase account asking that she walk away. Unfortunately, her former unit director (who is lock stock and barrel certified crazy), convinced here to get back into production to “achieve that goal!” As I was on official travel I was unable to stop the re-indoctrination and we are once again in debt with a basement full of useless unsold product. Now, along comes Career Conference. What timing. The holidays are over and Spring has not yet come. “A get-a-way” from your everyday life and a chance to reconnect with your “successful sisters.” I am certainly no Mensa but even I can see through that load of bunk.

    1. As a loan officer I agree with you. Having reviewed many individual financial statements including a few with either prior or active relationships with companies such as Mary Kay, where people run into trouble with these types of businesses relates to their credit. For example, if a balance is not paid on time or credit is not used judiciously (as in using no more than 1/3 of credit extended and/or paying off balance in the following month consistently) it negatively affects FICO credit scores. My best advice to anyone looking to refinance or purchase a property who is not already closely managing their FICO/credit already is to obtain a ‘three bureau’ credit report from any local mortgage broker as a ‘first step’ to ‘credit health’ A good broker will be able to help you with a plan to get your FICO scores as high as possible so that when the time comes to refinance or purchase real estate you can get the best rates available.
      If you have no idea of what your FICO scores are, I advise those ‘in between’ or ‘first time’ also ng with anyone making ‘big ticket’ purchases to use for free info. Because it is free users can manage their credit with Transunion & Equifax and either request their annual report at no charge through Experian (which is a separate provider whose FICO scoring is not made available via
      Also, I too had a short lived distributorship with Mary Kay. I invested $2000 in product as a 23 year old and allowed for a standard 90 days (because in business and employment standard practices are that if an employee fails to perform or reasonable results do not occur within that time action must be done to correct it) My neighbor who was moving following her husband’s retirement gave me her customer files comprising around 200 customers whom she said regularly ordered throughout the year along with her marketing materials boxes and a really cool box of ‘new old stock’ vintage Mary Kay from the 1960’s and ’70’s-large eyeshadow cases with their formerly ‘wet or dry’ eyeshadows, lipsticks etc. brand new in their packages with around 10 of each color that were truly great quality contents and containers and generous in their sizes vs. the ‘rinky dink’ sizes and materials that can be found even in deep discount store brands-a strong reflction in my opinion of the extreme devaluation of the US Dollar and our economy.
      While I diligently followed up with all in those file boxes allowing for 4 days of my work week to include 1-2 hours spent calling those customers until I reached them to offer both service and promotional party I found over the course of 3 months/90 business days that I was only able to sell around 3 skin care sets and a handful of cosmetics, body care and fragrance as replenishment to those customers (the equivalent of 45% of the inventory purchased-not acceptable to my way of running my ability to ‘pay myself’) and so seeing that demand despite my diligence (and believe me, as an ‘independent contractor/1099er’ commission loan officer I am no stranger to 4 hour days of dialing out to complete strangers to obtain completed loan applications, folding and mailing out for another 2-3 hours promotional newsletters and emails along with daily to weekly appointments in office and ‘on the road’ and being a consistent ‘President’s Round Table’ member to know about call to appointment to transaction ratios and marketing costs) I sent the remaining inventory back and took the 10% loss as a lesson never to do such a thing again and to share the story when and where I can.
      A business such as Mary Kay along with others similar to it prior to 1980 based on conversations with those who worked both Mary Kay and Avon reveals that the ‘hay days’ of fun and profit opportunity with the type of support these companies used to be capable of is no longer economically realistic! My friend’s mother sold Avon in the 1970’s and was earning $300 to $370’s per week and her and her husband both recalled the copy paper sized boxes of FREE samples and catalogs that Avon provided and they also have a huge collection of the cool fragrance and men’s aftershave products that Avon used to make that included many things including much ‘Americana’ including gold and silver laminated bottles shaped in the form of cars, airplanes, fire trucks, animals, historical figures and places (US Capitol shaped men’s fragrance, Historical figures, vintage automobiles, telephones etc.) that if they were considered for reproduction today would be prohibitively expensive due to economic factors.
      For any woman, and I write this as a woman wishing to give my best experience based advice:before you consider what I call ‘business in a box’ (anything such as an MLM) or any business relationship where you are an ‘Independent Contractor’ it is very important that you determine the ‘support’ any company extends as part of the business relationship against the commission structure, how much you want to earn and whether or not it is realistic prior to your three month trial. For example, due to my background, customer base and experience I am ‘worth’ compensation at 70/30 with no desk fees, free use of office landline,computer, processing staff and in house referrals from a shared 10,000 mailers outgoing per month from our office on behalf of 7 of us that I am able to generate 1-2 new loans in addition to the others I generate based on creating and paying for my own marketing materials.
      In closing, my opinion is that MLM models combined with the state of the US Dollar and economy means they are a business model that have a statistically poor success rate using 90 business days with diligent effort to meet with or contact by phone a minimum of 5 prospects per day/25 per 4-5 day work week and doing it in addition to having a 40+ hour work week that can also include weekends!
      PS:Of course those willing to excersize equivalent diligence over 12 months or more including weekly recruiting repeating the cycle for the duration of their relationship with whichever company to keep on the MLM commission ‘hamster wheel’ will begin to earn average to above average US income, but as the old saying goes ‘there’s more than one way to skin a cat’ and I’d rather do something easier as I am doing now to bring in 6-7 figures a year doing loans and my own real estate investing and sale activities.

      1. BestDecision

        As Pam Shaw preaches, anything can be changed in 90 days. If MK was all that, new Consultants wouldn’t be dropping out at Week 6. Well written and valued knowledge!

        1. Debbie

          ‘Had to look that name Pamela Shaw up using her name ‘Pamela Shaw anything can be changed in 90 days’ and found this link and from the “Meet Pam’ section of it: ‘In the 26 years since she gave up a teaching career and joined the Mary Kay team, Pamela has enjoyed 19 years reaching the $1 million mark, $6 million in earnings, a trademark ride in Pink Cadillacs, traveling the world, working from her sweet spot, and sharing quality time with her friends and family and son, Thomas.’
          Those whose financials I saw that had OK businesses in Mary Kay, Avon,Princess House etc. had a relatively high percentage of ex-teachers and social workers. Guess what? Teachers (and other government workers such as social workers) in many affluent counties already earn a relatively generous salary, in the high 5 figures through lower 6 figures along with the ability to work these MLM businesses over a 6 month to year or more before they end up doing it on a full time basis whether due to retirement, disability or choice. Teachers have a lot of patience in addition to higher frequency of having ‘disposable income’ to ‘work a plan’ and repeat it ad nauseum with sales to recruitment ratios that are well beyond the tolerance of other types of businesses involving sales.
          PS: I read somewhere that the average turnover of representatives across various types of MLM companies is 2 months!

    1. BestDecision

      Exactly right. MK does, in fact, use animals for testing. Repulsive that they claim to be so Godly, yet they don’t take the steps necessary to complete halt it.

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