Dan Charnas Reexamines 50 Cent's $400 Million Deal
Did 50 really get $400 million from Vitamin Water? Dan Charnas of "The Big Payback" goes behind the numbers to investigate.
Even as he suffered from the same declining album sales plaguing almost every other recording artist, 50 Cent’s income from his various other endorsements ensured that he was among the game’s top earners. By most accounts, the most lucrative of those endorsements was a stake in Glaceau, which reportedly netted 50 close to $400 million when Coca-Cola purchased the company.
“In the media, initial reports put 50 Cent’s cashout at $400 million, calculated by dividing the purchase amount by 50 Cent’s reputed 10 percent share,” Author Dan Charnas writes. “But in reality, 50 Cent’s take was much less. Another stakeholder needed to be paid off first—the diversified Indian conglomerate Tata had invested $677 million for 30 percent of Glaceau in 2006, and got $1.2 billion when Coca-Cola bought them out.”
Charnas recently revisited 50’s Vitamin Water deal as a part of his book The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip Hop. According to Charnas, the key move in 50 Cent and manager Chris Lighty’s strategy was making 50 Cent’s signature Vitamin Water flavor resemble the cheap “quarter water” liquor store and bodega bottles. That move made the choice of grape as the flavor for Formula 50 a calculated risk. And while Charnas’ math would mean 50 Cent didn’t necessarily pocket $400 million from the Coca-Cola buyout, his cut of the deal still wasn’t too shabby.
“When all the other costs had been deducted, 50 Cent was thought to have walked away with a figure somewhere between $60 million and $100 million, putting his net worth at nearly a half billion dollars.”