When A Coke Show Visits A Pepsi Campus…

Penn State is notorious as a Pepsi-sponsored school, which is immediately apparent if you’re a Coke fan on campus. You can’t find a Coke anywhere. Well…almost.

Former Penn State President Joab Thomas signed a deal with Pepsi back in the ’90s to make it the official soft drink brand of the Nittany Lions. (Here I am avoiding the soda/pop argument.) The deal, which has been continually renewed since then, gives Pepsi the exclusive rights to campus vending machines, dining halls, convenience stores, and pretty much anywhere else you can get a nice cold one this side of College Ave.

But College GameDay, which is in Happy Valley this weekend for the first time since 2009, is heavily sponsored by Home Depot and — you guessed it — Coca Cola. I never thought I’d see the day where I could get a free can of Coke passed out to me on Old Main Lawn, right next to a Coke-sponsored countdown clock.

So what gives?

“The Penn State-Pepsi relationship is strong and contemplates conflicts in sponsorship that arise from time to time,” a spokesperson for Penn State Athletics said. “It happens when Penn State hosts NCAA Championships, as Coke is an NCAA corporate partner. ESPN has an advertising relationship with Coke.”

Luckily, Pepsi is the realest and supported Penn State in its quest to bring ESPN’s College GameDay to campus, despite the sponsorship conflict.

“The possibility of ESPN College GameDay visiting our campus was discussed internally during the summer,” a spokesperson for Penn State Athletics said. “At that time, we made Pepsi aware of the possibility and the relationship of College Game Day with Coke. Pepsi recognized the special opportunity for ESPN College Game Day to showcase Penn State, our students and campus and was supportive from the beginning.”

So here’s to you, Pepsi. Let’s all toast with a rum & Coke this weekend.

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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