Coca-Cola Joins Kobe Bryant on the BodyArmor Team

By Lamar Johnson

  • Coca-Cola is the 2nd largest stakeholder in BodyArmor sports drink
  • Kobe Bryant’s initial $6M investment is now worth $200M

In an effort to get in on the natural sports drink wave, Coca-Cola (KO +0.28%) has become the second-largest investor in BodyArmor. The investment comes with a significant windfall for former basketball star Kobe Bryant, one of the company’s early investors. Bryant and Coca-Cola hope the pairing helps the drink make a run at Gatorade owned Pepsi’s (PEP -0.10%) hold on the market.

Why This Matters: Bryant first invested $6 million for a 10% stake in BodyArmor back in 2013. With Coca Cola’s investment, his stake is now worth $200 million in just five years. The soft drink giant also owns Powerade, but is looking for a natural alternative to compete with the number one sports drink in the space.

Gatorade is the unquestioned leader in the sector, accounting for 74.7% of the U.S market, compared to Powerade’s 17.4% and BodyArmor’s current 3%. Bryant sits on the board for BodyArmor and directed four advertisements this spring. In addition to Bryant, reigning NBA MVP James Harden and the Dallas Wings’ Skylar Diggins-Smith also endorse the brand.

BodyArmor has history with Coca Cola, as its founder has sold multiple prodcuts to the soft drink company in the past. Mike Repole, the majority stakeholder of BodyArmor, also sold Vitaminwater, NOS Energy Drink and Fuze beverage to the company back in 2007. Terms of the deal weren’t immediately disclosed, but this gives BodyArmor access to Coca-Cola’s bottling facilities. They could purchase a larger stake of the company at a later date.

Situational Awareness: All parties involved are hoping this investment turns out better than Juicero did. One of Bryant’s earliest investments was in the Wifi-connectable pressed juice machine. With the hardware originally priced at $700, and the single-serve packets ranging from $5-$7, the business model was questionable from the beginning. Later a Bloomberg video showed that the juice could be pressed by hand, with nearly the same efficiency. The company went under months later.

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