An obscure piece of exercise equipment has become an unlikely star.

The WaterRower, a rowing machine distinguished by a tire-shaped tank of water at its front, has gained fame through repeat appearances on the Netflix hit “House of Cards.”

Frank Underwood, the power-hungry politician played by Kevin Spacey, and his wife Claire, played by Robin Wright, retreat to the machine to burn off frustrations from their conniving exploits. The machine even surfaces in Mr. Underwood’s dreams.

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Each time a new batch of episodes is released, Internet searches for “House of Cards rowing machine” spike. The searches reached their all-time peak in March, according to Google Trends. That’s when the show’s fourth season was released.

David Jones, director of sales and marketing for WaterRower, calls Mr. Spacey “the most famous ‘rower’ in the world.”

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