Imagine being Bang Energy's lawyer
I.P.O. actually stands for "Instagram Post by Owoc," few know this.
I’m going to throw some words at you and at you and I want you to guess what they mean. OK? Here goes:
“Beverly Hills of the South”
Alright, that’s all of ‘em. Now it’s your turn. What does this collection of words mean to you? There are no wrong answers! But the right answer is *takes enormous deep breath*:
“This week, Flo Rida won a jury award of nearly $83 million in his lawsuit related to his endorsement deal with Celsius, a beverage brand in which PepsiCo bought a $550 million stake two years after Bang Energy CEO Jack Owoc—who claims to live in the “Beverly Hills of the South,” by which he means a weird mansion outside of Miami—blew up his brand’s distribution deal with the soda conglomerate over its alleged sandbagging, an outcome he’s clearly Not Mad About and Just Thinks Is Funny, Actually™️, as you would know if you read his Instagram post about it in which he also announced that Bang is ‘currently working to launch an IPO’ only to walk that maybe-illegal statement back in a revision a day later clearly written by his poor lawyer.”
If you got all that, congratulations—you have brain damage! Or you’ve been closely reading Fingers’ reportage on Bang Energy’s poster-in-chief since way back, which… same difference, I guess? Anyway, this all happened! Improperly announcing Bang’s public listing (which may or may not even be real; it’s entirely possible he thinks the acronym stands for “Instagram Post by Owoc”) on social media is just the latest Owoc cock-up (Owoc-up?) in an historically not-tight stretch for him, his maybe-proprietary, maybe-bunk “Super Creatine” compound, or his corporation, Vital Pharmaceuticals. The company was on the losing end of roughly half a billion dollars worth of legal action in 2022 focused on the proprietary/bunk nature of Super Creatine. Juries and arbitrators are leaning bunk! Vital (also known as VPX Pharmaceuticals and VPX Sports) entered bankruptcy last fall, and has been trying to reorganize its debts and rebuild its distribution network ever since. To help, Owoc hired Pepsi and Coke veteran as Vital’s chief operating officer (good!), but she left two months later (not good!) Now, the firm is facing opposition on its hard seltzer trademark from the same company, Orange Bang, that already convinced a federal arbitrator non-alcoholic Bang had breached its contract around the mark last year.
If I was Jack Owoc I simply would not gun-jump a coming IPO in an unrelated Instagram post gloating about legal judgments against a corporate rival, which total roughly 20% those of my own bankrupt company, you might be thinking to yourself right now. Surely, someone at the Securities and Exchange Commission is thinking it! And, presumably, whichever VPX attorney is patient/masochistic enough to still be trying to keep the Super Creatine Express on the rails through all this. But the fact of the matter is, Jack Owoc is a poster, and posters post. What does that mean for the future health of his billion-dollar energy empire? That, dear reader, is anybody’s guess.
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🇨🇦 Canada’s zero-booze advisory triggers “total shitshow”
The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction this week sent a serious shot across Big Alcohol’s bow, revising the country’s public-health guidelines on safe alcohol use from a maximum of 15 drinks per week (10 for women) down to just two, and calling for mandatory warning labels on all booze. This is a huge deal! Not only for Canadians that enjoy the cultural and communal benefits of drink even as they suffer from its ever-more-documented physiological and social harms, but also for the CCSA’s peer public-health organizations in the post-industrial Global North, who are now in the awkward position of having to either disagree with the agency’s findings, or dissemble about why their own national advisories allow for significantly more “safe” consumption of a known carcinogenic. Americans should be particularly curious about this development, both in a historical sense (the United States’ alcohol trade has been uniquely intertwined with that of our neighbors to the north since the early days of Prohibition), and because Canada’s stronger federal regime and social safety net may offer a vision of how a more stable and responsive public-health apparatus apparatus can address the corporate juggernaut of the global alcohol trade.
Maybe? “It’s a total shitshow up here,” James Wilt, Winnepeg resident and author of Drinking Up the Revolution, told me. The CCSA’s new report has stirred up varying degrees of red-assedness amongst some Canadian alcohol producers, bar owners, and rank-and-file drinkers, and there’s no telling whether its more aggressive regulatory proposal—the mandatory warning labels—will be adopted as policy. I’ll have an interview with James next week diving into this situation in more detail, because it’s very in the wheelhouse of his (excellent) book. In the meantime, check out my lengthy conversation with him on The Fingers Podcast this past fall about the ongoing battle between public health officials and for-profit alcohol firms. More soon!
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