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Food & Drink

Rockstar's Founder Joins the Ranks of Energy-Drink Billionaires

About 13 years after founding energy-drink company Rockstar, Russell Weiner has emerged as a billionaire.

The 44-year-old controls 85 percent of the company; his mother, who serves as Rockstar’s chief financial officer, owns the rest. Weiner’s stake is worth about $1.5 billion, according to Bloomberg News reporter Annelise Alexander, citing data by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Despite concerns by consumers and the FDA about the marketing and overconsumption of caffeine, energy-drink sales continue to grow. U.S. retail sales in the 52 weeks ending June 15 were up 4.4 percent from the previous year, according to IRI, a market research firm in Chicago. ”The category is benefiting from a high level of product innovation,” notes a report by Bloomberg Industries. ”In June, Coca-Cola (KO) extended its flavored water brand Vitaminwater into the energy-drink category with Vitaminwater Energy, a lightly carbonated beverage boosted with green coffee bean extract.”

Weiner has billionaire peers in the energy-drink industry, too. Top-selling brand Red Bull created two billionaires: co-founders Dietrich Mateschitz of Austria (whose net worth is about $7.7 billion) and the late Chaleo Yoovidhy of Thailand (whose fortune was worth about $4.8 billion). And Monster Beverage (MNST) Chief Executive Officer Rodney Sacks is fast approaching billionaire status, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Wong is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek. Follow her on Twitter @venessawwong.

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