As University of Georgia fans prepare to cheer on their beloved Bulldogs for yet another season, Coca-Cola is releasing a special bottle commemorating the team’s first College Football National Championship in more than four decades.
The 8-oz. glass bottles of Coca-Cola were created in partnership with acclaimed Georgia artist Steve Penley. Artwork on the bottle features bulldog mascot “Uga” sporting an ornate championship crown. The bespoke image was painted by Penley, best known for reinterpreting American historical figures and iconography—including the contour Coke bottle—in his signature, instantly recognizable style.
“It means so much to our program to have the support of alumni like Steve and partners like Coca-Cola across the state of Georgia, and I can’t wait for our fans to be able to go out and purchase these bottles,” said Josh Brooks, Athletic Director, University of Georgia.
The bottles will be sold for a limited time in six-packs at select retailers, grocers and convenience stores across Georgia, starting Aug. 15. Head Coach Kirby Smart unveiled the bottles during UGA’s annual media day in Athens on August 4.
“It’s only fitting for a quintessential Georgia brand to salute our longstanding partners and neighbors,” said Crawford Jones, East Region VP for Coca-Cola UNITED, which will distribute the commemorative bottles. “And since Steve’s art has been such an integral part of the Coca-Cola aesthetic, his brush was the perfect choice to help bring this to life as students return to campus and fans gear up for the season kickoff.”
Penley’s ties to both Coca-Cola and UGA run deep. He was born in Chattanooga, Tenn., where his grandfather worked as a route driver for the first-ever Coca-Cola bottler. Growing up in Macon, Ga., he was inspired by cartoonist and MAD magazine co-founder Jack Davis, whose art graced the last Coca-Cola bottle commemorating a UGA national championship in 1980.
“Jack has been such an inspiration to me over the years,” Penley said. “As a kid, I loved his art and especially his work for UGA and Coca-Cola, and we got to be friends before he passed away in 2016. I wish he was still here so I could show him my Coke bottle and debate whose Uga is better.”
Penley, who attended the University of Georgia in the 1980s, painted the image the day after the Dawgs beat Alabama for their third title, the euphoria of his favorite team’s win fueling his creativity.
“I’ve been drawing Uga and Coke bottles since I was in middle school,” Penley added. “Both are like home to me, so this is such a huge honor.”
Penley was first commissioned to paint a piece for The Coca-Cola Company in the early 2000s, and his artwork has since been showcased in the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta and in company offices around the world.
“A Coke bottle is a common bond we all share,” Penley said. “I manipulate it with my colors and my brushstrokes to help the public see it in a new way. I want people to take away a feeling of comfort, optimism and hope. Because to me, Coke is all of those things.”