A-Rod invests in coconut water brand, but endorses another

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Darren Rovell does great work at CNBC covering a range of sports business topics and also runs one of the most interesting Twitter feeds around. He’s been talking for several weeks about a rising product called “coconut water,” which is quickly gaining big-time investors and big-time pitch men from the sports world.

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is one of those pitch men. And, well, he’s also an investor. Let the conflict begin.

Vita Coco, a brand of coconut water that did $40 million in business last year, announced Wednesday that it had signed Rodriguez to an endorsement deal and even released a picture (seen on the right) with A-Rod holding their product. But Rovell heard Wednesday that the slugger is actually a long-time investor in another coconut water brand called Zico, and that his ad for Vita Coco has now caused confusion within both companies.

A-Rod attempted to bring clarity to the matter in typical clumsy fashion on Wednesday:

“I don’t discuss my personal investments,” Rodriguez told CNBC, in statement read by his business manager, Guy Oseary. “What I will say is that since Zico changed their formula to concentrate, I felt that the taste and functionality was compromised and that’s when I started to only drink Vita Coco. I love the taste and purity of Vita Coco.”

So A-Rod pumped money into a coconut water brand, then decided he liked another coconut water brand better and is now helping to sell product for a competitor. Zico CEO Mark Rampolla told Rovell this week that if Rodriguez “truly feels that he made a better choice, we’ll be more than happy to return his money.”