An investment made by Kobe Bryant has yielded more than 30 times its money in fewer than four and a half years.
On Tuesday, Coca-Cola announced it had purchased a minority stake in sports drink BodyArmor.
Bryant made his first investment in the brand, for roughly 10 percent of the company, in March 2014, putting in roughly $6 million over time. Based on the valuation of the Coca-Cola deal, his stake is now worth approximately $200 million, sources told ESPN.
Bryant is now the fourth-largest investor in the brand, marketed as a healthier competitor to Gatorade, behind the brand's co-founder Mike Repole, Coca-Cola and Keurig Dr Pepper. When Bryant invested in BodyArmor, the brand had just come off a year of $10 million in sales. BodyArmor is projected to top $400 million in sales in 2018.
Bryant, who earned $328 million on the court in his 20-year NBA career and a similar amount off the court over that time, announced his investment in BodyArmor on the same day he announced the start of his new company, Kobe Inc. He since has formed a $100 million joint venture investment firm with entrepreneur Jeff Stibel and started his own production company, Granity Studios, which won an Oscar in 2018 for best animated short for his "Dear Basketball" film.
As part of their endorsement deals, many athletes had equity stakes in BodyArmor. Sources told ESPN that as many as a dozen superstar athletes could also have stakes in BodyArmor worth more than $1 million, including James Harden, Dustin Johnson and Andrew Luck.
Coca-Cola's acquisition is the biggest story in the business of sports drinks since December 2000, when PepsiCo acquired Quaker Oats, which included Gatorade. The deal puts BodyArmor in Coke's powerful distribution network, on their delivery trucks throughout most of the United States.
This is the second time Repole has sold a company to Coca-Cola. In 2007, Glaceau, a company he co-founded with the smartwater and vitaminwater brands, sold to Coke for $4.1 billion.
Bryant's return is the biggest return for a modern-day athlete in the business world in some time. LeBron James made $30 million from a small stake in Beats by Dre when it sold to Apple in May 2014. James and his business partner Maverick Carter put less than $1 million into fast-casual pizza chain Blaze in 2012. That investment is now worth approximately $40 million.