Coca-Cola‘s market value abruptly plunged by about $4 billion on Monday, in a dive that coincided with soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo snubbing the Euro 2020 sponsor during a press conference at the tournament.
Portugal’s world-famous team captain pushed two Coke bottles away from his spot at a table before taking questions in Budapest, ahead of a Group F game against Hungary. Ronaldo then held up a bottle of water and touted it as the better alternative. “Beba agua!” he said in Portuguese. “Drink water!”
Coca-Cola’s stock price dipped by 1.6 per cent almost immediately after the gesture, according to Business Insider and Reuters. That dropped its overall market value to $238 billion from $242 billion (all U.S. dollars).
The stock opened at $56.16 on Monday before dropping to $55.26. It was still hovering around $55.22 on Wednesday morning.
It’s unclear if other factors may have contributed to Coke’s sudden slide, but the dip followed an obvious public snub by one of the most recognizable athletes in the world. Ronaldo also boasts the most popular Instagram account on the planet, with more than 299 million followers.
Coca-Cola responded to the snub by saying that “everyone is entitled to their drink preferences,” and that each person has different “tastes and needs.”
“Players are offered water, alongside Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar on arrival at our press conferences,” a spokesperson told various outlets, including The Athletic.
NFL superstar Tom Brady applauded Ronaldo’s gesture in a tweet.
“It’s almost like the veterans know what they’re doing,” he wrote.
Ronaldo, 36, is a well-known health enthusiast and has made no secret about his disdain for soft drinks in the past. Last year, for example, he said he gets upset when he catches his son drinking Coca-Cola.
Ronaldo does not have sponsorship deals with any of Coca-Cola’s rival brands, CBS Sports reports.
The soccer star went on to score two goals in Portugal’s 3-0 win over Hungary. The tallies made him the leading scorer in European Championship history.
French star Paul Pogba also sparked an uproar by removing a bottle of Heineken, a tournament sponsor, from the table at another news conference on Tuesday.
Pogba is a practising Muslim who does not drink alcohol.
— With files from Reuters