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Silencing Nike Chaos, Sha’Carri Richardson’s Historic Move With Sprite Puts Her in 96-Year-Old Inner Circle for Olympics

Published 04/18/2024, 4:50 PM EDT

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Just after the 2024 Paris Olympic sponsor, Nike revealed Team USA’s kits, to make the event a success, they adorned the exterior of Paris’ Palais Brongniart with 30-foot-tall statues of Sha’Carri Richardson, LeBron James, Victor Wembanyama, Kylian Mbappé, Alexia Putellas, and Beatrice Vio, painted in Nike’s iconic orange. However, this upset some fans for ignoring another prominent face in women’s track and field over the years, who is also a Nike athlete.

Well, Sha’Carri Richardson who will begin her Olympic season this week at the Diamond League athletics circuit in Xiamen, People’s Republic of China had some more exciting news. She bagged a deal with Sprite and became the first female athlete to ink a deal with the Coca-Cola-owned brand. The “Obey Your Thirst” campaign will have Richardson showcase how she stays true to herself and defies societal expectations. What’s more special about this campaign is that it will feature ‘The Flash’s’ mother and grandmother in cameo roles. Another star in the campaign is the Minnesota Timberwolves’ shooting guard.

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Spirte launched its first Obey Your Thirst campaign back in 1994 and had Grant Hill star in it. Paying tribute to the original campaign, now they roped in Anthony Edwards to star alongside Hill himself. In an interview, Edwards was asked how he felt to be a part of the campaign along with Richardson as both of them were going to participate in the 2024 Paris Olympics. He said, “Super dope, man. I don’t really watch too much track, but I know she’s super fast. I know she one of the best for sure. Big shout out to her. I’m happy for her.”

With an aim to empower the young generation of consumers to embrace their individuality, Sprite began this campaign. The Senior Director of Brand Marketing for Sprite North America, Brian Rogers, echoed the objective and said, “… Sprite recognizes the overwhelming pressure and impact this can have on the growth and ambitions of a younger generation. With the revival of ‘Obey Your Thirst,’ we’re excited to introduce this timeless message to Gen Z and inspire them to embrace their uniqueness and confidently chart their own path.”

Coca-Cola holds the rare esteem of being the oldest surviving sponsor of the Olympics. Now, the deal has put SCR to a level to another level. However, another recent advertisement has upset a few Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce fans for copying.

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Sha’Carri Richardson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s rivalry extends beyond the track

Sha’Carri Richardson’s authenticity and relentlessness have worked behind landing her the prized deal with Coca-Cola. However, what angered a few fans was that Nike forgot the 8x Olympic medallist, the greatest female track and field athlete Shelly-Ann Fraser, whose 30-feet-statue could have been built, but they chose Richardson instead. However, in this same season, SCR’s advertisement with Whoop, the fitness brand, hopped in to make her the face of their product.

The advertisement had a resemblance in the concept, backdrop, and music. It was noted that even Sha’Carri’s all-green attire had a stunning similarity with Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce’s appearance in Richard Mille’s promotional ad from the past. This angered a lot of Jamaicans and it was reported that they demanded a complete boycott of the brand. However, no further information is available on this matter. 

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The two stars have been in close competition on several occasions. Recently, during the 2023 World Championships in Budapest, Richardson (10.65 seconds) defeated the 37-year-old (10.77 seconds) in the 100m race and clinched the gold medal. In their personal best records, Fraser holds 10.60s in the 100m category and 21.79s in the 200m category. And, Richardson clocked 10.65s and 21.92s in 100m and 200m, respectively. Fraser has 17 world championship medals but the 24-year-old is a two-time world champion and would have been an Olympic champion had it not been for the infamous doping allegation that was at the core, ahead of the Tokyo Games that time.

Apart from the Sprite advertisement, Sha’Carri’s appearance among the Gen-Z earned her another deal this year. It was from the tech giant, Google. The Silicon Valley brand featured Sha’Carri Richardson with Bronny James to publish their new specifications in Android. Without wearing a fancy veil, Sha’Carri displayed her inner self there. Advertisements like these have helped the track and field athlete reach much closer to her fans. 

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Written by:

Prasun Chakrabarty

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Prasun Chakrabarty is an Olympic Sports Writer for EssentiallySports, who specializes in covering aquatic arena events. Post his experiences with popular publications including PinkVilla, Prasun began his days in ES, by actively covering two prime events - 2023 US Open Swimming Championships and the 2024 TYR Pro Swim Series. Prasun's coverage extends beyond the pool, and he takes specific interest in the progress of the triangular rivalry between track and field stars, Sha’Carri Richardson, Shericka Jackson and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. You can follow him on:-
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Edited by:

Sampurna Pal