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June 16, 2021

There are influencers and there are influencers.

Shortly after Portuguese football superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo slid two Coca-Cola bottles away from him during a press conference on Monday, at least $4 billion was wiped off the soft drink company's market value, according to data from stock market research platform, Macrotrends.

Ahead of Portugal's opening game at the Euro 2020 tournament against Hungary, in Budapest, the health-conscious athlete was caught on camera as he moved the soft drinks away from him. He then held up a bottle of water and said "agua."

As the 30-second interaction went viral, it had swift repercussions for the Atlanta-based beverage company, which is one of the tournament's official sponsors.

Coca-Cola's share price, which closed at $56.08 on Friday, dropped to $55.22 on Monday shortly after Ronaldo's action and the company's market value also fell to $238 billion on Tuesday down from $242 billion earlier this month — a loss of at least $4 billion, according to data from Macrotrends.

The company's overall market value has, however, been rising over the past three months.

Coca-Cola did not respond directly to a request for comment, but instead pointed NBC News to a statement from European soccer's governing body, UEFA, which said the company offered "a range of drinks to suit different tastes and needs, which are available to players throughout the tournament."

It added that players "can choose their preferred beverage" at press conferences.

Ronaldo's action won praise from sports commentators on social media, as well as Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.

Anti-obesity campaigners also welcomed the gesture from the 36-year-old Portugal team captain who went on to become the highest goal scorer in European Championship history on Tuesday, when he scored twice in his team's 3-0 win over Hungary.

Ronaldo was "setting a positive example for young fans and showing his disdain for a cynical marketing attempt to link him with a sugary drink," Britain's Obesity Health Alliance tweeted.

One of the richest athletes on the planet, Ronaldo has a lucrative brand off the pitch commanding huge endorsement deals and with 299 million followers, he is the most followed athlete on Instagram — surpassing reality TV star Kim Kardashian and singers Ariana Grande and Beyoncé.

Earlier this month, Ronaldo, who is also known to fans as "CR7," tweeted: "My body is my weapon. It's the most important thing to me. In football, we are always told to eat well and train well to have a longer professional career."


However, some on social media have also pointed out that Ronaldo appeared in a 2006 advert for Coca-Cola and featured in a commercial for fast food giant, KFC.

After Ronaldo's decision made headlines, French soccer star Paul Pogba later also removed a bottle of Heineken beer near him at a press conference.

A spokesperson for the Dutch brewing company, which is an official sponsor of the tournament, said in an email: "We fully respect everyone's decision when it comes to their beverage of choice."

Image Source: Getty Images