ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — Update, Feb. 14 1:30 p.m.
Thursday, spokesperson for the Iditarod Jennifer Thomspson told KTUU that the Odom Corporation is standing by its sponsorship of the 2019 Iditarod, though it won't do so under the Coca-Cola label.
In a statement from Odom, the distribution company said it was a proud sponsor:
“Although the Coca-Cola Company is not a sponsor of the Iditarod (they haven’t been since 2015), The Odom Corporation remains committed to supporting this meaningful local event. We are proud to be a sponsor of this year’s race. The historical importance of this event to the Alaskan community is one of the fundamental reasons why Odom remains committed to this annual event.”
The Iditarod said animal rights group People for the Ethical Treament of Animals re-purposed a story from 2015 to disrupt the Last Great Race.
However, on Wednesday when KTUU reached out to the Coca-Cola Company regarding their race sponsorship, the company confirmed its local distributor was not sponsoring this year’s Iditarod through any consumer brands owned by The Coca-Cola Company.
The statement from the Coca-Cola Company was as follows:
“Our local distributor in Alaska has informed us that they are not sponsoring this year’s Iditarod through any consumer brands owned by The Coca-Cola Company,” wrote Kent Landers, spokesperson for Coca-Cola.
KTUU has reached out to the Odom Corporation for clarification as to why the beverage company was no longer listed on the Iditarod website sponsorship page, and if another beverage would be taking its place.
The Coca-Cola Company announced Wednesday that its Alaska distributor, The Odom Corporation, will no longer sponsor the Iditarod.
According to an email from company spokesperson Kent Landers, the decision to drop its sponsorship was made locally, but that the company respects the move.
“Our local distributor in Alaska has informed us that they are not sponsoring this year’s Iditarod through any consumer brands owned by The Coca-Cola Company,” wrote Landers.
In response to Coca-Cola backing out, Iditarod’s Chief Operations Officer Chas St. George wrote in an email Wednesday that the Iditarod values its numerous other sponsors.
"The Iditarod Trail Committee's main focus right now is preparing for the 47th running of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race," St. George wrote. "We value and thank our numerous sponsors who believe in the mission of providing exemplary dog care, connecting with Alaska communities and who continue to support a safe and successful race for our canine athletes and mushers."
St.George says Coca-Cola was a wheel dog sponsor — the lowest tier of sponsorship. The beverage company was no longer listed on the Iditarod website sponsorship page.
Wednesday afternoon, the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals tweeted support for Coke’s decision.
In June, the maker of Jack Daniel’s dropped its sponsorship of Iditarod, and in September, Anchorage Distillery joined as a new sponsor.
The Iditarod ceremonial start begins in Anchorage on March 2.
A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to Anchorage Distillery as Alaska Distillery.