Most Iconic Athlete Food and Drink Commercials

Classic food and drink advertisements featuring sports stars

Sometimes I dream, that he is me,
You've got to see that's how I dream to be
(Bum de-di-de-dum DUM)
I dream I move, I dream I groove, like Mike, if I could be like Mike...

Generally speaking, commercials featuring athletes are a dime a dozen and more often than not, it shows. But sometimes the dead-on commercial featuring a product with the just-so concept and the got-it-right superstar athlete combines to create a truly memorable TV moment — a jingle zeitgeist if you will. Be they funny, touching, inspiring, or just plain clever, athlete food commercials can achieve the status of 30-second, never-to-be-forgotten, collective-unconscious classic. 

Think about the most resonant athlete food commercials of all time. What comes to mind? "Mean Joe" Greene's Coke commercial is an obvious one. Gruff, tough, persistent, touching — it hits all the right emotions, the soft spots that cause typical American males to fight back tears at the end of Rocky movies — the ones that make them gulp after slow-motion end-zone passes or stealing-home scenes in the run-of-the-mill sports movies. Then there are the clever commercials, the ones like the Bird versus Jordan game of horse that just hit exactly the right tone. When you think about it, athlete food commercials are an art form... really.

So, what are the most iconic athlete food commercials? There are so many, which makes this a contentious issue. But here are nine great ones. Think we missed your favorite? Note it below or email us.

 

1. The premise is simple, Larry Bird challenges Michael Jordan to a shoot-out. The winner enjoys a meal at McDonald's. The result? A classic display of sports and food. 

 

2. Bird and Jordan's commercial for McDonald's was so iconic that the mega-chain hired modern NBA stars, LeBron James and Dwight Howard to re-make the ad for Super Bowl XLIV. 

 

3. It's no secret that NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning are known for their senses of humor and love of brotherly competition. So this über-competitive Oreo-licking contest makes sense.

4. When it comes to Super Bowl commercials there are few more iconic than Coca-Cola's 1979 ad featuring "Mean Joe" Greene. It has all the makings of a classic — a catchy jingle, an indelible slogan, and a touching storyline. 

 

5. In 2009, Coca-Cola enlisted Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu (also known for his Head & Shoulders ad) to star in a remake of the "Mean Joe" Greene commercial, this time for Coke Zero. The spot premiered during Super Bowl XLIII. 

 

6. Yankee legend Yogi Berra is famous for his one-liners, which is a quality that the makers of Coors Light took advantage of while crafting this commercial (note actor Jason Alexander behind Yogi).

 

7. There's a surefire combination of surrounding a superstar with a crowd of kids plus Magic Johnson and his lovable antics in this 1982 commercial for 7-UP. It all makes for a 30-second snippet of TV gold. 

8. When Gatorade launched its "Like Mike" campaign in 1992, the slogan took on a life of its own. After inspiring pop-culture references, a movie title, followed by a series of underwear commercials where Jordan rarely does anything but smirk, it's clear everyone still wants to be like Mike. 

 

9. "It fills you up right." McNabb, his mother, Chunky Soup, need you another reminder?

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