Kobe Bryant estate earns $400M after Coca-Cola buys BodyArmor

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The estate of the late NBA great Kobe Bryant is getting a major cash infusion after beverage giant Coca-Cola purchased BodyArmor, a sports drink company in which Bryant was an early investor. 

A report from CBS News notes that the $5.6 billion purchase of the company will net Bryant’s estate at least $400 million. 

Kobe Bryant smiles at halftime as both his #8 and #24 Los Angeles Lakers jerseys are retired at Staples Center on December 18, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo: Harry How/Getty Images)

Coke announced the purchase on Monday at 8:24 a.m. — the timing commemorates Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers jersey numbers. 

“If it wasn’t for Kobe Bryant’s vision and belief, BodyArmor would not have been able to achieve the success we had,” said BodyArmor co-founder Mike Repole in a statement. Repole was also a developer of Fuze Beverage and Smartwater. 

Launched in 2011, BodyArmor is the number two sports drink in the nation after Gatorade, which is owned by PepsiCo. Coke also owns Powerade, which is at number three. 

The purchase of BodyArmor is the largest amount Coca-Cola has ever paid to acquire a product. The second highest was the purchase of Glaceau water in 2007, a move that reportedly netted one of its early investors, rapper 50 Cent, a $100 million return. 

Coke plans to focus on taking BodyArmor to its “next stage of growth,” although the company will remain based in its Queens, New York, headquarters. 

Bryant invested $6 million in the company in March 2014 in return for 10% ownership. When Coke became minority owner in 2018, Bryant’s stake went up in value to $200 million. 

According to an ESPN report, as many as a dozen professional athletes invested in BodyArmor after Bryant, including James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets, WNBA star Skylar Diggins-Smith, and former NFL quarterback Andrew Luck. 

Widely considered one of the greatest to ever play in the NBA, Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and seven others died in a helicopter crash in January 2020. 

Vanessa Bryant, his widow, is the executor of the Bryant estate. She recently won a ruling in her lawsuit against Los Angeles County, whose officials had requested that she undergo an independent psychiatric evaluation to determine whether she suffered emotional distress from the leaking of videos and photos of the crash site. 

Per CNN, Magistrate Judge Charles F. Eick denied the county’s request, calling it “untimely.”

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