Even in the afterlife, Mamba stays winning. Coca-Cola Co has announced the complete acquisition of BodyArmor – the sports drink brand backed by Kobe Bryant himself – for approximately US$5.6 billion (AU$7.5 billion) in a cash deal that’ll effectively net the basketball legend’s estate a casual US$400 million (AU$538 million).
Bryant invested US$6 million (AU$8 million) circa 2014 in exchange for a 10% stake. Less than four years later, that very same stake was valued at a considerably heftier US$200 million (AU$269 million) when Coca-Cola got in on the action by snapping up 15% for US$300 million (AU$403 million) – slingshotting BodyArmor’s total valuation into the stratosphere. Or more precisely, US$2 billion (AU$2.69 billion).
According to The Wall Street Journal, shortly thereafter, Coca-Cola’s bottling network took over the distribution of BodyArmor, earning itself another 15% equity stake for the “partnership-in-the-building”; although this particular detail conflicts with what’s outlined in the official press statement, indicating Coca-Cola only ever held the initial 15%. Whatever the case, it brings us to the matter of the remaining 70% / 85% that wasn’t previously owned by the beverage giant.
In addition to Kobe Bryant himself, other prolific founding investors included NBA’s James Harden and MLB’s Mike Trout – all of whom invested and marketed BodyArmor, and in the case of the former Los Angeles Laker, served on the company board up until his untimely demise in early 2020. While it’s unclear how many figures Harden and Trout will be cashing in, Bryant’s +6,566% return has been confirmed by multiple reputable publications (via people familiar with the ongoing negotiations).
“If it wasn’t for Kobe Bryant’s vision and belief, BodyArmor would not have been able to achieve the success we had,” says Mike Repole, Co-Founder of BodyArmor.
“I couldn’t be more excited to become part of the Coca-Cola family and set our sights on the future.”
Kobe Bryant’s career earnings within the NBA exceeded US$328 million (AU$441 million) across 20 seasons. Upon his death, he had an estimated net worth of US$600 million (AU$807 million). As for BodyArmor, it’s now sitting around the US$8 billion (AU$10.76 billion) benchmark, becoming an even more serious rival to Gatorade in both sales – expecting to generate about US$1.4 billion (AU$1.8 billion) in retail this year – and reputation.