How boxing champ Evander Holyfield won a $20M contract from Coca-Cola

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Evander Holyfield wants to make boxing popular again

Boxing champion Evander Holyfield on fixing boxing’s promotion problem and how Pepsi and Coke helped him make $20 million.

At the height of his fame, boxing legend Evander Holyfield took a picture for free, unaware that image would end up on a billboard in Atlanta as part of a Pepsi advertisement.

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When Coca-Cola executives saw the ad, they contacted Holyfield and asked how much it would cost him to take it down. The Atlanta-based company couldn’t believe that Holyfield, who grew up in the Georgia capital, would support Pepsi -- which is headquartered in Purchase, New York.

“So [Coca-Cola] asked me, and I was fortunate enough to be there, and they asked me how much it’d take to get it down,” Holyfield told FOX Business’ Stuart Varney during an interview on Friday. “I said, they didn’t get me nothing. And they gave me the big contract.”

Holyfield, who competed until 2011 and reigned as the undisputed champion in both the cruiserweight and heavyweight division, scored a 10-year, $20 million contact from Coca-Cola, with $2 million installments paid out every year, although he lost a significant portion in taxes.

“I was really upset, because the fact is, that was my first time ever making big money,” he said. “And I didn’t think they would take that much.”

Now, Holyfield is working to promote smaller fights, including an upcoming one in Brooklyn, New York this Saturday, which will feature two beginners trying to get their start in the industry. The boxing legend blames a lack of proper promotion for a drop-off in interest in the sport, but said the interest is still there.

“I don’t think it ever left,” he said. “It’s just the fact that when you stop promoting, things go down.”

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