There has always been a bit of a disconnect between the highly competitive and health-conscious world of sports and the brands that often sponsor events. The typical American sporting event will have sponsorships from fast-food chains, beer companies, and soft drinks.
In some cases, the brands will position themselves as being complementary to a healthy lifestyle. Like when Michael Jordan was a spokesperson for McDonald's or when LeBron James endorsed Coca-Cola.
While athletes and brands are free to make whatever business deals they like, the problem is that these partnerships use superstars who are the paragon of health to promote unhealthy lifestyles.
Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the biggest athletes on the planet, stood up to the pressure to promote unhealthy products on Monday when he scoffed at two bottles of Coca-Cola that were placed in front of him at a press conference ahead of Portugal's Euro 2020 opener with Hungary.
The Juventus star moved the two bottles of soda out of camera view and picked up a bottle of water saying, "Drink water, not Coca-Cola." Having one of the biggest stars of the championship denigrate a sponsor must have infuriated UEFA officials.
Do NOT put Coca Cola in front of Cristiano Ronaldo 😠 This is absolutely brilliant 🤣 https://t.co/bw9FYlTOI4— Goal (@Goal) 1623745546.0
The decision immediately affected Coca-Cola.
The soda manufacturer's stock shares experienced a 1.6% drop in price after Ronaldo's comments, costing the company $4 billion. However, the stock price was back up at the end of the day.
Coca-Cola responded to the initial comments by saying "everyone is entitled to their drink preferences" and that everyone has different "tastes and needs."
It is a little anachronistic to see bottles of Coca-Cola placed in front of the world's greatest athletes. Drinks like Coca-Cola have an incredible amount of high-fructose corn syrup and are linked to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
In one study on children, each daily serving of sugar-sweetened beverages was linked to a 60% increased risk of obesity.
Ronaldo once endorsed Coca-Cola back in the day but now is an advocate for healthy living, evidenced by the fact he's still at the top of his game at the age of 36. He's known for having an intense health regimen and an incredibly toned physique.
Cristiano Ronaldo: Has 3% less body fat than a supermodel Thigh circumference of 61.7cm Can run 25m in 3.61 seco… https://t.co/OECZspajab— CRSEVN.7 (@CRSEVN.7) 1570550498.0
Ronaldo is known for eating six small meals a day to keep his metabolism going while avoiding hunger or feeling sluggish. He trains five days a week for three to four hours a day.
He's spoken publicly about how he gets frustrated when his son has a sugary drink.
"I'm hard with him sometimes because he drinks Coca-Cola and Fanta sometimes and I'm pissed with him," Ronaldo said according to The Mirror.
Ronaldo's refusal to promote Coca-Cola struck a chord with Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, 43-year-old Tom Brady, an athlete who's also known for prolonging his career through an intense health regimen.
It’s almost like the veterans know what they’re doing.... @Cristiano @TB12sports https://t.co/pJ0y1BtCRt— Tom Brady (@Tom Brady) 1623711099.0
Caroline Cerny, Alliance Lead at Obesity Health Alliance, perfectly summed up Ronaldo's bold move. "It's great to see a role model like Cristiano Ronaldo reject Coca-Cola for water, setting a positive example for young fans and showing his disdain for a cynical marketing attempt to link him with a sugary drink," she said.
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