Streib, Lauren, Newsweek
Byline: Lauren Streib
An energy drink's latest extreme sport.
On Oct. 8, seasoned skydiver and BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner is scheduled to perform an unprecedented feat of athleticism, science, and, possibly, stupidity. He'll free-fall nearly 23 miles to earth--jumping from a pressurized capsule hoisted by the world's largest helium balloon. If he jumps at an imprecise angle or any part of his gear malfunctions, he may die, as have two others who've tried a similar act. But if all goes as planned, he will pass the speed of sound (690 mph) within 40 seconds, smash four world records, and consecrate the most high-tech spacesuit ever created. All thanks to ... Red Bull.
Space is the only remaining frontier, and the most dangerous, for the energy-drink maker. Dozens of sporting events this year will bear its branding--from motocross in Germany to cliff jumping in Oman--and its pool of 600 athletes-cum-spokesmen will compete in hundreds more.
Thanks to Red Bull's association with extreme sports, the soda bears an aura of liquid adrenaline (though an 8.4-ounce can has half as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, and the benefits of taurine, an amino acid added to the drink, remain unproven). Sports marketing exec Marty Conway says Baumgartner's jump "is potentially catastrophic, but Red Bull fans have come to expect this. They would be disappointed if Red Bull didn't do this type of marketing. …