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Luck throws weight behind Body Armor with equity stake

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Andrew Luck said he wanted to prove himself on the field in the National Football League before pursuing sponsorship opportunities off it.

After leading the Indianapolis Colts into the playoffs as a rookie in 2012 and orchestrating eight game-winning drives in his first 17 regular-season games, Luck said he is now looking to “reap the benefits” from an endorsement standpoint. The Colts’ 24-year-old quarterback has agreed to an equity stake in Body Armor’s SuperDrink, with a multiyear brand partnership in which he’ll appear in national and regional advertising.

“There’s always a risk in any equity, but I feel like there’s a great market for a sports drink that’s good and good for you,” Luck said.

Luck joined Nike Inc.’s stable of endorsers in March 2012, a month before the Colts made him the first pick in last year’s NFL draft. While fellow quarterback and No. 2 pick Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins signed a series of sponsorships with companies such as Subway restaurants, Adidas AG, Electronic Arts Inc., Castrol Motor Oil and EvoShield, Luck said he wanted to take it slower.

“After I got drafted, I was still in school, finishing up at Stanford, so didn’t have time to partake in some of the time commitment that the endorsements involve,” Luck said. “I didn’t get as fast off the ground. I wanted to prove it on the field first and if I had a decent year, reap the benefits off of that. This offseason has been a little busier.”

Luck joins Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout and San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey as sponsors for Body Armor, whose chairman is former Vitaminwater co-founder Mike Repole. Coca-Cola Co. bought the parent company of Glaceau Vitaminwater for $4.1 billion in 2007.

“Him being selective about brands speaks volumes about what Body Armor SuperDrink is,” Repole said by e-mail. “When we first heard he was a fan of the brand, we were excited. After meeting each other, we both recognized a ton of similarities between what Andrew intends to do on the field and what we intend to do as a brand.”

Luck was part of a group of NFL rookies who promoted PepsiCo’s Gatorade sports drink, though he said he wouldn’t term the partnership an endorsement. Luck said he discovered Body Armor’s SuperDrink while working out during the offseason at Stanford University, liked its taste and claims that it has 2-1/2 times the electrolytes of other sports drinks and twice as many vitamins as enhanced waters.

“I used it a lot and then understood that with the position of a quarterback and some of the off-the-field things, maybe there’s a chance to contact these guys and get some free drinks out of it,” Luck said with a laugh. “My agent called them up and we’re here now.”

Luck sought to become a shareholder in Body Armor, a path also taken by athletes such as Patriots quarterback Tom Brady with Under Armour Inc., golfer Tiger Woods with Fuse Science and New York Mets third baseman David Wright with Vitaminwater.

Luck and Body Armor didn’t disclose the size of his equity stake.

“When Vitaminwater first started, we didn’t have the financial resources that we have now with a brand like Body Armor, so the investment with athletes like David Wright was more out of necessity,” Repole said. “It is great to see athletes like Andrew coming to us asking about an equity stake. It shows how passionate he is about Body Armor and how he believes in us being a mega brand.”

Luck said while he hasn’t talked with other athletes who have taken equity stakes in a company, he’s seen and read media reports that Wright pocketed $20 million for his half-percent stake in Vitaminwater when the company was bought by Coca-Cola a year after he started appearing in advertisements.

“The hope when things like this happen is the Vitaminwater story,” Luck said.

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