Perennial college basketball powerhouse Gonzaga University has selected Giannis Antetokounmpo-backed sports brand Ready Nutrition as the official sports drink of its athletic department.
The two-time NBA MVP and star of the champion Milwaukee Bucks is an investor and co-owner of the company, alongside three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams.
The company said Gonzaga’s men’s basketball team tested the product during March Madness before the two parties made it official. The multi-year deal is valued in the mid-six figures, according to someone with knowledge of the arrangement.
The Bulldogs, whose men’s team advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four in 2021 before falling to Baylor in the final, join UCLA as an official Ready university partner. The Bruins signed with the sports nutrition brand earlier this year. Ready, which was founded in 2012, has also been selected as the official sports drink of eight Division I Conferences, including Gonzaga’s West Coast Conference, as well as the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) youth sports organization.
Ready said the deal was a formalized expansion and evolution of the company’s partnership with the WCC.
“It’s important for us to really integrate the brand at the college level, [and] not just from an athletic perspective,” said Ready founder and CEO Pat Cavanaugh, a former college basketball player at the University of Pittsburgh. “We subscribe to what some people refer to as the toothpaste theory: that whatever toothpaste you use in college, you’ll use for next five years of your life. We want to get those college students and athletes in particular acclimated with Ready, so getting the right college partners and conferences in place is part of our brand distribution and awareness plan.”
Last year CNBC reported that Ready broke $100 million in revenue, and industry experts expect the category to grow by 30% this year. Much of that anticipated growth is attributed to the company’s sports drink, which launched in 2021. Cavanaugh declined to disclose specific growth numbers but said that six months into the sports drink launch, the product is “exceeding our expectations and really fueling the growth of our overall product portfolio.”
In addition to the sports drink, Gonzaga will also have access to Ready’s other products, which include protein water, bars, plant-based snacks and protein powders. The company’s products are currently available in more than 8,000 retail stores across North America. Ready also recently expanded into European and Latin American markets, and has plans to continue forging collegiate partnerships with additional Power 5 and mid-major schools, specifically in the sports drink category.
“We’re always looking to provide our guys with the best in everything,” Gonzaga men’s basketball coach Mark Few said in a statement. “We used Ready during the tournament last year, and our players loved it. It was an easy decision for us to name Ready our Official Sports Drink.”