What Does Gebrselassie Have To Do With Whiskey?

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published Mar. 30, 2011
  • Updated Mar. 30, 2011 at 8:08 AM UTC
Haile Gebrselassie appears in a commercial for Johnnie Walker whiskey. Photo: Ethiosports

Haile Gebrselassie appears in a commercial for Johnnie Walker whiskey. Photo: Ethiosports

He was paid $100,000 to endorse a famous brand of alcohol.

Reporter Azuka Onwuka of the the Daily Independent asks a few logical questions: Why on earth is the world-record holder in the marathon paid to endorse Scottish whiskey? And what does whiskey drinking have to do with marathoning?

These questions stem from a recent television commercial for Johnnie Walker that features Haile Gebrselassie telling his life’s story–about how he lived on a farm and ran 10K to school every day. He then goes on to “dedicate each push to everyone and everything that motivated him to succeed, concluding that everyone can give that one push that will make the difference.”

Apparently, the commercial was shot in Ethiopia and Gebrselassie was paid $100,000 for the endorsement, becoming the first African to be sponsored by the brand.

“But there seems to be a disconnect between the brand and the brand ambassador, a subtle attempt to obfuscate the audience,” writes Onwuka. “Do athletes who succeed in marathon need to drink Johnnie Walker to succeed? Did Gebrselassie drink it in his heyday before any competition? Was it the secret of his success?”

For More: Daily Independent

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Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin is the news editor at and a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released last July.

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