How water-loving Cristiano Ronaldo made millions with a string of junk food deals… including Coca-Cola

CRISTIANO Ronaldo shunned fizzy drinks giant Coca-Cola by moving bottles off-screen and telling fans to drink water – but the footballer has made millions from advertising ‘unhealthy products’ in the past.

The Portuguese star's stunt at a press conference, ahead of his team’s 3-0 Euros victory against Hungary, cost the brand $4billion (£2.8bn).

The share price for Coca-Cola, which is one of the competition’s sponsors, dropped from $56.10 to $55.22 – lowering their market value from $242bn to $238bn.

While the 36-year-old footballer is known to be a health fanatic, in the past he’s lent his name, image and support to junk food and fizzy drink companies in the past.  

Sponsorship deals have helped to top up the £28million-a-year Juventus salary by hundreds of millions.

Ronaldo’s recent Coca-Cola swipe comes in spite of him promoting countless products, which according to Forbes made him football’s first billionaire.

Fizzy drink

Despite blasting the carbonated drinks company, the football ace seemed more than happy to promote them in the past.

In the resurfaced clip, Ronaldo was featured on the front of a Coca-Cola can and displayed a number of his legendary football skills. 

Early into the advert, the star beamed after giant droplets of the fizzy-drink fell into his mouth. 

After scoring a goal into the top-right-hand corner of the net, the mulleted star raced towards the screen in celebration before the ad ended. 

'His views on Coke are BS!'

It’s not known how much he was paid to appear in the advert, which was believed to have been broadcast in 2006.

On Monday, Ronaldo took aim at his former employer, Coca-Cola, and told fans “agua” – the Portuguese word for water – as he pushed the bottles out of view of the camera.

Some eagle-eyed fans were quick to point out the hypocrisy of the footballer’s decision online, including one who said “his views on Coke is BS”.

A second questioned how Juventus would “generate the astronomic pay he gets” without big sponsors and a third claimed Ronaldo was “silly” for moving the bottle “to prove his point”.

Fast food

In an advert for the “finger lickin’ good” chain KFC, fans were offered free food if they purchased items endorsed by the footballer.

They included a snack plate on the house for anyone who purchased Ronaldo headphones or cheesy wedges for buying a Ronaldo water flask.

The series of adverts, which were aired in the Middle East, also included the footballer tucking into a bucket of wings and telling fans “so good” before winking at the camera.

One of the slides in the clip stated “KFC Cristiano Ronaldo Limited Edition Premiums”, which had a silhouette of the star protruding from one of the letters.

In data shared with The Sun, GlobalData valued the deal at $2.25million (£1.6m) between 2013 and 2016 – or $750,000 (£531,000) per year. 

Energy drinks

Ronaldo was also the face of energy drink Soccerade and appeared on their 500ml bottles for an unreported sum in 2008.

The caffeine-free beverage, which claimed to provide natural energy, had flavours including wild berries, orange and cold blue.

The brand, which was owned by Iceland company Leppin, aimed to take-on rival sports drinks Powerade and Gatorade.

Ronaldo is now a brand ambassador for Herbalife Nutrition, whose sponsorship deals have earned him more than $12.5million (£8.85m) in the past eight years.

According to GlobalData, he first signed a five-year agreement with the sports brand in 2013 for $5million (£3.54m).

As part of the agreement they launched a Ronaldo-inspired drink named ‘Herbalife24 CR7 Drive’, which he promoted online and in adverts.

When his first deal came to an end in 2018, the footballer signed-up for another three years for $7.5million (£5.31m).

Herbalife are now flogging a Ronaldo-endorsed H24 Hydrate electrolyte drink that is free of artificial colours or flavours and is calorie free until 2021. 

Here for the beer

GlobalData also claimed the star signed a $2.3million (£1.6m) deal to promote the Brazilian beer company Ambev – now known as ABInBev.

This year, Ronaldo was reported to have signed a one-year $1.75m (£1.4m) deal with Therabody, who create massage gun products.

He also agreed to a $2million (£1.42) deal with LiveScore, who report sports results, fixtures and more, for two years.

This joins a list of other sponsorships of the past including Nike, Emporio Armani, Samsung, Toyota, Emirates Airline,, Egyptian Steel and more.

Player backlash

After Ronaldo pushed away the Coca-Cola bottles, teetotal Paul Pogba moved a bottle of Heineken out of shot. 

Conrad Wiacek, Head of Sports Analysis at GlobalData, said it was “quite interesting” to see how athletes have started to fight back against advertisers.

He told The Sun: “You’ve got this interesting dynamic happening at the moment where athletes are more aware of their personal brand than anything else.

“Someone like Ronaldo railing against Coca-Cola and promoting water speaks of his personal brand – he has the power and success to affect that sort of change.

“If you'd have asked me five years ago if Ronaldo would have done this, I would have said no but now we’ve seen a lot of athlete activism, they are forces for change.

“For example, I think there is a slightly hypocritical message having a highly-tuned-in performance athlete sitting in front of a bottle of Coca-Cola.”

Mr Wiacek felt brands “need to be more aware” ahead of bigger competitions because sports stars “are no longer willing to sit there, nod and play along”.

He told The Sun: “Athletes now have a voice and a means of speaking to fans and the public outside of their clubs, national teams and things like that. 

“That change is empowering and a lot of them are saying they are not comfortable with it more than ever before. 

“It’s not their sponsor, so for Ronaldo it will not affect his personal sponsorships and he is well insulated. 

“The cost of him doing that is minimal but if an athlete who had a lower-profile was punished for it the public backlash would be significant.”

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