Subscribe to our newsletters

The $4 billion press conference

Along with the excitement brought about by the knockout stage of the Copa America tournament, this year’s event also comes with a riddle.

What do you get when you take a soccer superstar, a couple of Coke bottles, and add some media spin? An estimated $4 billion drop in Coca-Cola’s market value.

At least, that’s what the barrage of articles after last week’s post-match press conference would have us believe.

Here’s the backstory: Walking to his press conference seat, Cristiano Ronaldo saw two Coca-Cola bottles advertised on the table. Moving them clearly out of the cameras’ view, Ronaldo implored the onlookers to drink water instead. Seems reasonable, right?

Well, the not-so-subtle move was followed with reports of a 1.6% drop in Coca-Cola stock, equating to a $4 billion drop in the company’s valuation. 

But, can the truth really be that simple?

Nope. In reality, Coca-Cola had closed the previous trading day at a company valuation of $242 billion. It opened the morning of Ronaldo’s fateful press conference at a slightly lower price, about 1.6% down — hey, I remember that number! By the time the soccer player took the center stage, along with all the headlines to come, the Coke price and company valuation had already fallen to $238 billion. Well before the soda cans were ushered off-stage by the world-class footballer.

So, no, Cristiano Ronaldo did not lose Coca-Cola $4 billion. 

In light of these insufficiently researched, juicy narratives taking the forefront of various media outlets, Forbes warns of the challenges we face in this “post-truth world,” and reminds us to accept that we have biases ourselves — biases that should be checked — in a bid to challenge the echo chamber around us. 

This entry originally appeared in The Starr Conspiracy’s Work Tech Weekly newsletter. Subscribe here to receive the latest news, resources, and stories each week.