"But I do know when you came out here, you were looking at everyone else and not really me," she said
Shark Tank‘s Lori Greiner is not afraid to put a contestant in their place.
During Sunday night’s episode, physician Sarath Malepati presented the sharks with his invention, EZC Pak, a five-day immune support pack made of echinacea, zinc and vitamin C that claims to boost the immune system and fight viruses.
But after Mark Cuban was overly critical of the product, Malepati found himself in hot water with Greiner who accused him of treating her differently because she was the only woman on the panel.
“You are kind of looking at me funny. Do you agree with what I am saying or no?” Greiner, 49, said to Malepati as he was avoiding making eye contact with her.
After Malepati said he agreed with Greiner’s assessment, she began to explain that she would prefer to use zinc if she had a cold. But Malepati quickly interrupted her by looking at the male investors and saying that there was indeed zinc in his product.
“Well, wait a minute, why are you ignoring what I am saying?” Greiner cut in. “That’s odd to me. I’m talking to you and you are looking over at Mark. And I’m telling you I’m into it.”
“Mark, I’m from Pittsburg,” Malepati said to Cuban, 61, as Greiner was still speaking to him.
“Wait a minute. You know what, I’m just gonna finish,” a visibly annoyed Greiner said. “I was the customer, I’ve been taking zinc for years, I’m a believer in this, I’m the one talking about antibiotic resistance and how important it is. But the fact that when I am talking to you, you don’t even look at me, I’m out.”
After some of the male investors began talking out loud, Malepati apologized to Greiner for offending her.
“I am offended. I feel like you don’t respect me as a female sitting here,” she said.
Malepati insisted that was not the case. When Greiner asked Malepati to prove it, Kevin O’Leary tried to interrupt her by explaining that he wanted to know about EZC Pak’s sales. Greiner, however, wasn’t having it.
“I have a lot of respect for you,” Malepati told her. “I think one of the things I really like about you is you are so positive, you’re so upbeat, and you’ve helped so many people.”
“You’re getting that vibe from her right now?” Robert Herjavec jokingly said.
Greiner laid into him.
“I am all of the above, but also as a woman and a woman in this world and a woman in business, I think it’s really important for women to speak up for themselves and stand up for themselves in a respectful way,” she said. “I’ve not very often, I don’t think I’ve ever reacted like this on Shark Tank, but I looked right at you, maybe you were shaken by what Mark said, maybe you were. I don’t know. But I do know when you came out here, you were looking at everyone else and not really me. I sense some chauvinism here, and I’m out again.”
The accusation came as a surprise to the male sharks, with Cuban telling Greiner that maybe Malepati was just nervous.
“I’m not a chauvinist,” he said.
The conversation then shifted back to his product’s sales. O’Leary, 65, ultimately made an offer to Malepati that he agreed to: $125,000 for 5% stake plus a royalty of $1 per unit which maxes out after $450,000 is paid.
But while Malepati closed a successful deal, his tense exchange with Greiner left him still shaken at the end of the episode.
“When Lori accused me of being a chauvinist, I was very surprised. That’s not who I am as a human being and I’m sorry that she felt that way,” he said.
Shark Tank airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.