Cristiano Ronaldo, Coke Stock, and the Increasingly Unmoored Nature of Reality

Cristiano Ronaldo shaved $4 billion off of Coke's stock. Or did he? Does it matter?
Cristiano Ronaldo, Coke Stock, and the Increasingly Unmoored Nature of Reality

The stock market is in a wild place; valuations are sky-high, arguably untethered from reality in many cases, and even apparently meaningless moments can seemingly create or erase billions of dollars in value. And, amid the sloshing glut of capital in the markets, even those objectively huge sums can be rendered ultimately pointless. 

Case in point: On Monday, when Cristiano Ronaldo moved aside two Coke bottles during a Euro 2020 press conference and opted for a drink of water, the company’s stock dropped by 1.6 percent from $56.16 (Friday's market close) to $55.23 within the first hour of trading on Monday. That translates to $4 billion lost, all seemingly because a veteran athlete chose water instead of the drink that doubles as a toilet cleaner.


The move has widely been described as a "snub,” and some have insisted Ronaldo was "visibly troubled” by the Coke. Others have focused on his commitment to a specific diet, and Euro 2020—which Coca-Cola is one of the official sponsors for—went so far as to issue a statement emphasizing that "everyone is entitled to their drink preferences" as they have different "tastes and needs."

So, why are we talking about an athlete’s drink preferences? The whole thing is nearly as absurd as a sugary soft drink company sponsoring a top athletic event and everyone pretending to be shocked that one of the best athletes in the world drinks water. And while $4 billion is a completely unimaginable sum to almost everyone reading about this event in the news, it’s essentially meaningless in today’s stock market. The reality is that Coke’s market cap is still $237 billion and the stock will likely recover from the 1.6 percent price dip, even though it is still down from Friday. 

This happens all the time in the stock market, but especially in the last year. Elon Musk, for example, wiped at least $14 billion from Tesla’s value after volleys of dumb tweets, including one saying the stock is too pricey. Since then, Tesla’s stock price has tripled.

Adding to the absurdity is the distinct possibility that Ronaldo actually had nothing to do with Coca-Cola’s stock drop and the two events were associated with one another because of a delay in stock quotes being reported. Brendan Coffey at sports business news outlet sports business news outlet Sportico pointed out that Coke's shares started trading at 9:30 AM local time while Ronaldo's conference began at 3:45 PM Central European Time (9:45 AM), and Coke was already trading 0.9 percent lower than its Friday market close.

What is this evidence of? Mostly, it’s more fodder for the idea that day-to-day stock prices are essentially unrelated to reality, or at least unrelated to the day-to-day happenings at a company. GameStop and AMC stock soars because of rampant speculation, shorting, and memes; companies that experience major government fines or devastating hacks see their stocks either unaffected or a tiny, temporary dip in price; companies that meet or exceed earnings targets see their stocks go down that same day. Just another day on the stock market rollercoaster.