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Peloton Responds After Another TV Show Featured Character Having Heart Attack Using Exercise Equipment

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(Image credit: Peloton)

Spoiler alert: This story contains minor spoilers for the Season 6 premiere of Billions

The fitness equipment company Peloton has responded after a second TV series has seen one of its characters suffer a heart attack after using one of its bikes. Less than two months ago, the company found itself reminding the public that cardiovascular exercise is healthy — not deadly — after And Just Like That’s Mr. Big shockingly died of a heart attack after a Peloton workout in the series' first episode. Now, the Season 6 premiere of Showtime’s Billions has caused the corporation to go on the defensive again.

Billions’ debut Season 6 episode, “Cannonade,” showed Mike "Wags" Wagner (David Costabile) suffering a minor heart attack while riding his Peloton spin bike. While Wags’ heart attack wasn’t fatal — unlike Big’s heart attack on the Sex and the City spinoff — Peloton took to Twitter to respond to the latest potential marketing crisis. 

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While product placement is important for companies to get their brands in front of consumers, how those products are used is equally important to the companies. Peloton made sure to clarify that the company did not agree for their equipment to be used on Billions, and didn’t provide a bike for them to use. Just like it did after the And Just Like That death, the fitness equipment company was sure to point out that cardiovascular health is important to living a long and healthy life.

In the aftermath of Big’s fatal heart attack on And Just Like That, the corporation pointed out that the character played by Chris Noth lived an “extravagant lifestyle” and had an angioplasty back in the Sex and the City days. Rather than contribute to his death, Big’s use of  the bike may have actually prolonged his life. 

David Costabile’s character made reference in the Billions premiere to Mr. Big's fictional death, with Wags saying, as he returned to his office amid a round of applause: 

I’m not going out like Mr. Big.

Even though the Billions episode was filmed before the death of Carrie Bradshaw’s husband on the HBO Max spinoff, Billions producer Brian Koppleman told USA TODAY they went back and added the line after And Just Like That premiered. Executive producer Beth Schacter said the joke fit the character:

It would be completely out of our character not to take a swing. It's too good. We're going to make the joke.

Peloton clearly didn’t find it as funny, as evidenced by the company’s quick response. It did, however, find a little room for humor after the first on-screen incident, with Ryan Reynolds helping the fitness company resurrect the SATC character for a commercial with Jess King, a real-life instructor who played the fictional cycling teacher Allegra on the show. Ultimately, however, even that backfired, and the ad was pulled following sexual assault allegations against Chris Noth.

Billions fans and Peloton are surely glad that Wags’ heart attack was only minor, and we’ll have to see if his health scare inspires the character to spend more time on that bike. The acclaimed drama's sixth season continues at 8 p.m. ET Sundays on Showtime. Check out other great series to stream on Showtime our 2022 TV Schedule to see what other shows are coming up soon. 

Heidi Venable
Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.