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As the fidget spinner craze spreads through schools and toy stores, its Florida-based creator hasn't seen a penny of profit decades after inventing the gadget.
Catherine Hettinger couldn't afford to update the patent on her creation – small top-like gadgets that people can spin fast with their fingers and are meant to help children focus – and hasn't banked any money from their rise in popularity. Hettinger's patent expired in 2005, and she couldn't afford the $400 renewal fee, according to The Guardian.
Hettinger told Time magazine she began inventing the toy in the 1980s as a way to distract kids and promote peace after a visit to Israel. Hettinger told Time that she's "just thrilled" they took off.
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“Maybe if it was some kind of exploitative product — like a new style of cigarettes — and my only motivation was to make money, I’d have a different attitude,” Hettinger said.
The gadgets have been touted as therapeutic for people with ADD, ADHD, anxiety and autism, but others embraced the spinners as the latest toy fad. Debate, though, has stirred around the spinners, with some saying the "fidget object" is counterproductive and prompting teachers to confiscate the gadgets from students to prevent classroom distractions.
Hettinger met with Hasbro after first landing her patent, but the toy maker rejected the product after consumer testing, according to Time. Hasbro now sells the spinners.
Hettinger has launched a kickstarter funding campaign to support her fidget spinner business and officially launch her own "Classic Spinner" line of the toy.