Professional athletes often represent the pinnacle of fitness and physical achievement. They earn millions of dollars and influence millions of people through lucrative endorsements with global brands, including food and beverage companies.
But many people have a hard time believing ultra-fit athletes are eating McDonald’s hamburgers and french fries during practice, as Michael Jordan and Larry Bird led them to believe in 1993.
Below are 7 examples of food items named after — and often endorsed by — famous athletes that aren’t nutritious.
Sprite LeBron’s Mix
Athlete: LeBron James
In time for the 2015 NBA playoffs, Sprite resurrected a limited-edition flavor of its lemon-lime-flavored soda, named after LeBron James. Weighing about 250 pounds of almost pure muscle, James could safely afford to drink his namesake soda’s 240 calories in 20 ounces — same as normal Sprite — but the average American likely shouldn’t.
A bottle of Sprite LeBron’s Mix contains 60 grams of sugar, equating roughly 15 teaspoons. The American Heart Association recommends adult women limit their daily added sugar intake to six teaspoons, with men capped at nine teaspoons.
Sugarpova Spooky Sour Gummies
Athlete: Maria Sharapova
Tennis star Maria Sharapova is tall, lean and fit but her brand of sugary candies won’t help anyone get into shape. Launched in 2013, Sugarpova makes a variety of pricey ($5.99 for a 5-ounce bag) gummy candies — to the chagrin of some diet experts.
While all the Sugarpova offerings carry roughly the same nutritional values, a five-piece serving of the company’s Spooky Sour Gummies contains 27 grams of carbohydrates and about five teaspoons of sugar. Of course, those numbers hardly make a dent if you spend six hours each day practicing tennis and working out.
Soda Shaq Original Cream Soda
Athlete: Shaquille O’Neal
Basketball icon Shaquille O’Neal is one of the most recognizable athletes in American history, and one of the most beloved. But Shaq came under fire in 2013, when he offered his name and likeness to a line of sugary drinks produced by the Arizona Beverage Company.
O’Neal’s sodas and punches come in several flavors, with Original Cream Soda containing 270 calories per can. The soda also has 72 grams of sugar per 24-ounce can, which equals about 18 teaspoons.
Athlete: Rob Gronkowski
Breakfast cereals are notorious in terms of nutritional value and this one named for one of the biggest characters in professional football is no different. Gronk Flakes — a frosted corn flake cereal — contain about 28 grams of carbohydrates per serving. A serving of Gronk Flakes contains more sugar, carbs and calories than a serving of Kellogg’s Froot Loops, which recently was listed among the 10 worst cereals, according to CBS News.
Earl Campbell’s Hot-n-Cheddar Links
Athlete: Earl Campbell
His name is synonymous with Texas football but since he hung up his cleats for good, Earl Campbell has been peddling sausage links at retailers across the country. Grill-lovers swear by his meats but the nutritional information in Campbell’s signature Hot-n-Cheddar Links is enough to raise a person’s blood pressure.
A single cheddar-filled link contains 910 milligrams of sodium, which is roughly one-third an adult’s daily recommended intake, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC recommends adults of 51 years old limit sodium to 1,500 milligrams per day, meaning Campbell, 60, should be limited to one whole link.
Athlete: Ben Roethlisberger
This sandwich, known more commonly as “the Roethlisburger,” has been expanding waistlines in Pittsburgh for years. Served at Peppi’s sandwich shop, The 7 — named after Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s jersey number — reportedly includes nearly two pounds of sausage and hamburger meat, American cheese and an egg.
Arnold Palmer Southern Style
Athlete: Arnold Palmer
For decades, the “Arnold Palmer” — a half-tea, half-lemonade drink — has been a popular beverage. The Arizona Beverage Company offers several canned versions of the drink, backed by the legendary golfer, including low-calorie options. The Arnold Palmer Southern Style beverage, which uses pink lemonade, is not one of those healthier versions.
This drink, which comes in a mammoth 24-ounce can, contains 72 grams of carbohydrates per container and its ingredients include high-fructose corn syrup.
Clint Davis is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.