Interested in a Thorpedo?

Is your organization considering ways to leverage its partnerships with athletes? Are you looking to take customized branding to a whole new level?

I came across an interested product that has become very popular in Japan - the Thorpedo. The Thorpedo is an energy drink named after Ian Thorpe, a five-time gold medalist as an Olympic swimmer for Australia. It turns out that in 2005, the Yakult company in Japan released the Thorpedo energy drink, which features a picture of Thorpe on the packaging.

To acquire the rights to Thorpe's image and likeness, Yakult formed an equity deal with the So Natural food group in which Thorpe was offered a 5% stake in the company (worth at that time, $1.1MM). The initial deal was set for fifteen (15) years and depending on the product's commercial success, Thorpe could gain up to 50% share in the venture.

The Thorpedo product is sold in vending machines (a preferred retail method) across East and Southeast Asia.

Which raises the question... Are there any athletes in the United States, outside of Tiger Woods (Gatorade), whose namesake could effectively drive a beverage (or a related product) to mainstream status in the United States? (Potential names that come to mind are Michael Jordan, Dale Jr., Lebron James, David Beckham, Kobe Bryant... any others?) Using likenesses is so common in the footwear industry but are there any other great examples out there of this in the United States?

Can properties collaborate with concessions partners to sell similar, unique products in-venue? Or create a "Championship Beverage" sold in-venue following a Championship season? There are potentially new revenue streams here, especially as teams follow the Yankees/Cowboys proposed trend of taking over their concessions operations...

Here are some more pictures of the Thorpedo product, how it is sold at retail in Japan, and some brand extensions...