Gatorade’s inventors have earned more than $1 billion in revenue since they created the sports drink a half century ago in a University of Florida laboratory, a report said Friday. Over that same span, Gatorade evolved from a niche brand into a ubiquitous presence in the sports world.
The University of Florida, which is entitled to 20 percent of all Gatorade royalties, has earned $281 million from its involvement with the brand since its invention, ESPN reported. The rest of the royalties go to the Gatorade Trust, a private group formed in 1967, two years after the sports drink came into existence. Given the university’s share, the Gatorade Trust, which includes the families and friends of the nine-person team that invented the beverage, has earned more than $1 billion over the same time period.
“I think we’d all be living well without it,” Jim Free, one of the inventors, told ESPN’s Darren Rovell. “But it has enabled us to do things like establish a family foundation and a family office. It also has its challenges in that we cannot let what we have spoil us.” Gatorade was created as a means to replenish the water, electrolytes and carbohydrates athletes lose through sweating.
In 50 years, Gatorade emerged from its humble origins to become a major player in the sports marketplace. The brand owns about 75 percent of the sports drink market and saw its sales increase by 5.4 percent in 2014, according to the Street. A person who invested $100 in Gatorade when it was invented in 1965 would have had $43,000 for that money in 2014, PepsiCo, which currently makes and distributes the beverage, said last March in its annual report to investors.
Gatorade has far outstripped Powerade, its closest competitor, in terms of sports sponsorship deals. The company has official partnerships with most major American sports leagues, including the National Football League, National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer.
Michael Jordan, the former Chicago Bulls star and NBA legend, is perhaps Gatorade’s best-known athlete endorser, but the brand also has deals with former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. Newer agreements with international soccer stars Lionel Messi and James Rodriguez have increased the brand’s global appeal.