Coke endorsement deal for LeBron James

Aug. 21, 2003 at 11:21 AM
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ATLANTA, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- The Coca-Cola Company Thursday announced a six-year agreement with 18-year-old basketball phenom LeBron James.

He now has signed more than $100 million in endorsements before ever taking the court in an NBA game.

James, who will be the spokesman for the Sprite and POWERade brands of the Coca-Cola Company, already had signed on with Nike and Upper Deck. His sneaker deal with Nike is worth a reported $90 million.

"LeBron James has brought more excitement and anticipation to the game of basketball than any player in recent history, and we think he's just getting starter," said Jeff Dunn, president of Coca-Cola North America.

The 6-8, 240-pounder from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in

Akron, Ohio was taken first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2003 NBA draft after being named National High School Player of the Year.

James was thought to be a natural successor to Michael Jordan as the spokesman for Gatorade, but the company pulled out of negotiations. James is a two-time Gatorade High School Player of the Year.

Sprite considers James a "key spokesperson" for its youth brand, especially true with Kobe Bryant facing charges of sexual assault. Bryant represents Sprite, which has stuck by the Los Angeles Lakers' embattled superstar.

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