Russell Wilson’s claims about Recovery Water could create FTC problems

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Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is entitled to believe whatever he wants to believe about the healing powers of Recovery Water. He’s not entitled to share those beliefs with the rest of the world, if his beliefs can’t be corroborated with scientific fact.

As an investor and de facto celebrity endorser in the product, Wilson is bound by the rules of the Federal Trade Commission, which prevent a celebrity endorser from saying things that the manufacturer of the product couldn’t say directly.

“Advertisers are subject to liability for false or unsubstantiated statements made through endorsements,” FTC guidelines promulgated in 2009 state. “Endorsers also may be liable for statements made in the course of their endorsements.”

Few if any are likely taking Wilson’s claims seriously, but plenty of outlandish claims have been made over the years regarding the attributes of a given product — and plenty of people have bought the product assuming the claim to be true.

In Wilson’s case, he admitted in the new Rolling Stone profile that they’re not claiming to have “real medical proof” that Recovery Water cures or prevents concussions. His follow-up tweet, which comes off as borderline defiant in the face of the criticism he has absorbed for his comments in Rolling Stone, contains no such caveat.

Which could mean that Wilson and/or the makers of Recovery Water will soon be hearing from the FTC, especially if any of Recovery Water’s competitors make a complaint to the agency.

44 responses to “Russell Wilson’s claims about Recovery Water could create FTC problems

  1. Interesting new legal precedent coming? Is a twitter post covered under the FTC guidelines? He could always claim he believes it because God told him it was so…

  2. He can jusy claim insanity when the FTC comes to talk to him.

    “I have an invisible friend who I have conversations with that cares about me and my job, of course my magic H20 heals people.”

  3. Russell should give a bottle to is O coordinator considering he was asked recently about the call to win the SB, a pass play on the 1 yd line and said if he had to do it again he’d call the same play, uh maybe 2 bottles! Then again, he’ll never recover from that!

  4. I think if will be the FDA notices Mr. Wilson’s claims first. And after they fine him, he will receive a 2 game suspension for trying to profit from such unfounded claims. I am guessing conning people for money is breaking some sort of NFL rule about not tarnishing the shield.

  5. The FTC most recently nailed Dr. Oz for exactly the same thing — getting paid to endorse a product by making unsubstantiated medical claims. The fact that Wilson admitted he has no medical proof backing up his endorsement makes the FTC’s job that much easier.

  6. Mike,

    Wilson did not say the piece about medical proof. It was his agent.

    From the story:

    “Rodgers offers a hasty interjection. ‘Well, we’re not saying we have real medical proof.'”

    Not to say that what Wilson said wasn’t silly, but it does show that his agent probably realized the blunder immediately.

  7. Few if any are likely taking Wilson’s claims seriously

    There are more people that will take this as factual than you think.
    It more than irresponsible of him to make these claims. It may be criminal.

  8. I believe there’s an MOU between FTC and FDA giving jurisdiction over this particular matter to FDA.

  9. Jag, it’s not a new legal precedent at play–it’s well-established (and discussed in agency guidance for industry) that social media is covered by regulations.

  10. asimonetti88 says:
    Aug 26, 2015 7:51 PM
    He makes it really easy to dislike him.
    RW doesn’t care if you like him. If you’ve not heard, he got paid weeks ago, and makes more in one year than you’ll make in multiple lifetimes. Your money envy is showing.

  11. First off, I think wilson has exposed himself as a true whacko and he has gone off the deep end of late. But I had to see if there is any scientific data behind this product:

    Studies conducted by University of Florida and Seattle Sports Medicine found that those who integrated Recovery Water into their active lifestyle experienced less muscle damage and 20% decrease in muscle fatigue.

    Less muscle fatigue. That’s their only claim. Doesn’t claim to prevent concussions or heal up knees faster. All he can really legally say is, ‘man, my muscles feel 20% better today than they would have if I didn’t drink this special water’.

  12. Wilson merely said that he believes the water helped him avoid a concussion. It’s pretty hard to disprove the claim that he believes that, regardless of how silly his belief is. He’s under no obligation to prove his company’s water actually heals people. That standard would only apply if he’d left off the “I believe” preamble.

    Wilson is no more obligated to prove his product works than anyone else hawking nutritional supplements or holy water from Lourdes.

  13. Was watching NFL network and pretty sure I saw an ad for a copper mesh sleeve that would fix my knee injury, arthritis, poor circulation, low energy, fatigue, and chronic widespread pain. So that’s pretty exciting.

  14. He should probably be more worried about the FDA.

    That being said, if he wants to make wacko medical claims, let him. He should be free to exercise his freedom of speech without a bureaucracy breathing down his neck

  15. Why do we want all of of the good players in the league to be tied up in legal problems. Who cares what he thinks about some product he endorses. Don’t listen to him. Just watch him play.

  16. With virtually no exception, anybody can sue anybody for anything. You could sue me for the wrongful death of Elvis Presley if you want to pay the filing fee. Now, you won’t win of course, for a few reasons such as an expired statute of limitations, a lack of standing to recover damages, and the fact that I was 1 when Elvis died. But you could still file the suit. So saying that somebody “can” sue for something is like saying that I “can” run for President…..of course I can, but with absolutely zero chance of success. And the Red Bull lawsuit had nothing to do with a literal failure to cause the plaintiff to sprout wings….if you read something other than just the headline occasionally, you never know what you might learn.

  17. Well, when you throw the winning touchdown pass is the last second of the Super Bowl you can pretty much say anything you want. Oh, wait a second, Holy Water Boy threw an interception in the last seconds of the Super Bowl…never mind.

  18. RW endorse your product correctly cause what you just did will kill the company. But I guess it’s ok because you probably have cashed the check to endorse them. Now the corporate lawyers get to clean up your mess.

  19. I believe in the healing power of Russell Wilson.

    As a Patriots fan, I was suffering from the pain and anxiety of having to read “Zero Superbowls since spygate” messages on this board on a nearly daily basis.

    But a simple application of Russell Wilson to the affected area during the final minutes of the Superbowl and all my pain and suffering vanished, along with all the snarky comments!

    It’s a miracle! I recommend Russell Wilson to all AFC fans that want to see their team hoist a Lombardi trophy.

  20. Time to lock him up and throw away the key.

    Hard to imagine how a guy that was so well liked for many years has managed to create an image of himself so bad in just the last two years that I (along with many others) can no longer tolerate him.

  21. I actually liked this guy since he came in to the league, but sadly, he’s becoming a very annoying personality. All I can think is we are beginning to see the real Russ

  22. Wait for it. I hear the NFL calling. Something about endorsing a product not on the NFL list of approved products. Wasn’t someone fined for wearing a hat advertising something the NFL didn’t endorse at a Super Bowl Media Day? There’s money to be made from that new contract.

  23. I was wondering how RW was going to squander his newfound millions. I have to admit, class action lawsuit was not what I expected.

  24. It might be slightly irresponsible for him to make unsubstantiated claims about the curative properties of a water he endorses based on personal experience, but it isn’t like he’s claiming that you shouldn’t immunize your children.

    At least if you are giving this to your kids they’re basically getting sugarless Gatorade and still needing to be cleared to participate in athletics post concussion, instead of getting measles or polio.

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