3:16pm PT by Austin Siegemund-Broka
Snoop Dogg Sues Pabst Over Alcohol Endorsement Deal
Two icons of college party culture are facing off in a new lawsuit.
Snoop Dogg has sued Pabst Brewing Company, the brewer behind Pabst Blue Ribbon and Colt 45, for breach of contract and interference with contractual relations in a complaint filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
The contract in question is the rapper’s 2011 endorsement agreement to promote Blast by Colt 45, a line of fruit-flavored liquors the company rolled out when similar drinks like Four Loko and Mike's Hard Lemonade were becoming popular. The rapper (and occasional reggae artist) was signed to serve as the drink's "brand ambassador" from January 2011 through January 2014.
Months following the end of the deal, the brewing company was sold to a group of investors (definitely none of which is a Russian brewing company) in a deal estimated at $700 million.
The Doggfather, suing under his given name of Calvin Broadus Jr., claims he's entitled to 10 percent of the sale price realized by Pabst stockholders. Why?
He cites a "phantom equity clause" in his endorsement contract, which supposedly states in its subsection (a): "In the event that the Blast by Colt 45 brand or the entire Colt 45 brand family is sold ... during the 3-year Term of the Agreement or within two (2) years following the end of the Term, Consultant [i.e. Mr. Broadus] will receive 10% of the net price of such sale."
The complaint notes there is an exception for sales of the company or exchanges of its stock among existing stockholders, but says the "exception clause" doesn’t apply to the sale in 2014.
Nevertheless, the rapper claims, the company refuses to pay him anything in connection with the sale. "Despite the sale, Pabst has taken the (very convenient) position that no transaction has occurred such that Subsection (a) of the Phantom Equity Clause would be triggered," states the complaint, which Alex Weingarten of Venable filed.
The complaint is for causes of breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, conversion and intentional interference with contractual relations. It doesn't specify damages.
A Pabst spokesperson says in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, "Pabst Brewing Company has been under new ownership and new management since November 2014. We have not been contacted by Snoop Dogg or his representatives about this issue. We are investigating the matter and would be happy to talk to Snoop or his representatives to try to get to the bottom of this."
Jun. 8, 6:56 p.m.: Updated with comment from Pabst.