Coca-Cola's cash deal to buy sports drink BodyArmor has netted millions of dollars in profit for the beverage's early investors, including basketball legend Kobe Bryant.
Coke said Monday it paid $5.6 billion for the outstanding 85% stake in BodyArmor. Coke originally bought a 15% stake in the line of beverages in 2018. Coke announced its purchase Monday at exactly 8:24 a.m. to commemorate the two jersey numbers Bryant wore during his NBA tenure.
The BodyArmor move marks the largest single amount Coke has ever paid for a beverage brand.for $4.1 billion in 2007 and
Company officials are now working "on the next stage of growth" for BodyArmor, Coca-Cola North America President Alfredo Rivera said in a statement. Coke said it expects BodyArmor to generate roughly $1.4 billion in sales this year.
BodyArmor is the No. 2 sports drink brand, Coke said, rivaled only by Gatorade, which is owned by PepsiCo. Powerade, which Coke also owns, is the No. 3 sports drink.
Coke is based in Atlanta, but the company said BodyArmor will be housed out of a separate business operation in New York and overseen by BodyArmor co-founder Mike Repole. Repole said he started the drink a decade ago and now it has grown to 400 employees.
"If it wasn't for Kobe Bryant's vision and belief, BodyArmor would not have been able to achieve the success we had," Repole, who also developed Fuze Beverage and Smartwater, said in a statement.
Bryant's estate will make about $400 million from selling its BodyArmor stake, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Bryant first invested in BodyArmor in March 2014 for 10% of the company, about $6 million, ESPN reported. At the time, Bryant was the third largest investor in the brand, ahead of big name athletes like the NBA's James Harden, MLB's Mike Trout, the NFL's Rob Gronkowski and the WNBA's Skylar Diggins-Smith.
Bryant retired from basketball in 2016 after a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He earned $680 million during his time in the NBA, Forbes reported. Bryant is regarded as one of the best players in basketball history.
Soon after retirement, Bryant launched several businesses including a film production studio, a sports academy and a venture capital firm.
Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Southern California in January 2020.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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