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. 

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