People may reach for a Pepsi, a Sprite or some Pimp Juice because they see Brittney Spears, LeBron James or Nelly drinking the stuff. It’s hard to imagine this guy having the same effect. Nevertheless: Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration is considering selling, to a yet-unchosen beverage company, the rights to Illinois’ name. No other state has ever done it. The concept of designating an “official state beverage” could bring in millions of dollars to Illinois’ cash-strapped state budget, as soft-drink companies compete – and pay – for the right to hawk their soda, juice or other beverage under Illinois’ state banner. More evidence that politicians are getting ever more desperate to find ways to fund their Leviathans. While no other state has done it, this idea isn’t new: Administration officials point to the profit of such agreements between major cities like Houston and Dr. Pepper ($5.3 million for the city over 10 years), or San Diego and Pepsi ($6.6 million to $23.6 million over 12 years). The example most often cited by proponents is that of New York City, which signed an “official beverage” agreement with Snapple last year worth $126 million over five years for the city. Of course, the Gov is too uptight to allow an alcoholic drink to be considered, and the same probably applies to Pimp Juice.
Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.