Did a small gesture by soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo really cause Coca-Cola to lose $4 billion?
It’s hard to say. In a Monday press conference ahead of Portugal’s Tuesday match with Hungary in the Euro 2020 tournament, the Portuguese striker sat down at the microphone and moved two bottles of Coca-Cola away from him and lifted a bottle of water.
“Agua” he said, appearing to encourage drinking water instead of soft drinks.
Ronaldo, 36, is known to maintain a very healthy diet, which included eating up to six small meals a day.
Earlier this month, he tweeted "My body is my weapon. It's the most important thing to me. In football, we are always told to eat well and train well to have a longer professional career."
My body is my weapon. It’s the most important thing to me. In football, we are always told to eat well and train— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) June 2, 2021
well to have a longer professional career, but to me, recovery is a key ingredient. That's why I choose the best in recovery – @Therabody pic.twitter.com/G8Uwy67miQ
Coca-Cola is a sponsor of the Euro 2020 tournament, and on Monday, the share price closed at $56.16. On Tuesday, shares fell to $55.23 at the opening bell, costing the company $4 billion in market value.
Whether Tuesday's drop can be attributed to Ronaldo’s gesture is impossible to know, but the soft drink giant underperformed the broader market Tuesday.
Coke’s stock remains up about $2 per share over the past year.
In response to Ronald’s move, the organizer of the tournament, the Union of European Football Associations, said in a statement that "Coca-Cola offers a range of drinks to suit different tastes and needs, which are available to players throughout the tournament.”
“This includes waters, isotonic sports drinks and juices, coffee and tea, as well as Coca-Cola. Players are offered water, alongside Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, on arrival at our press conferences and can choose their preferred beverage.”
Health advocates praised the move, with Britain's Obesity Health Alliance saying he was "setting a positive example for young fans and showing his disdain for a cynical marketing attempt to link him with a sugary drink."
It’s great to see a role model like 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.#AdEnough https://t.co/YXBLdLfKWe— Obesity Health Alliance (@OHA_updates) June 15, 2021
Portugal defeated Hungary 3-0, with Ronaldo contributing two goals.