“I’m never holding a Pepsi can”: Michael Jackson Had 2 Non-Negotiable Conditions Before Signing With Pepsi to Keep His Family Happy

Either way, it’s safe to say that the ‘King of Pop’ had us all hooked with just three seconds in that Pepsi commercial!

Michael Jackson
credit : wikimedia commons


  • Michael Jackson was not fond of sponsorship deals.
  • However, his partnership with PepsiCo was a testament to his altruism and talent.
  • Jackson agreed to the collaboration primarily for his family, but he had specific stipulations that highlighted his distinctive style.
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When you think of Michael Jackson, your thoughts probably go to his iconic songs, groundbreaking dance moves, and legendary persona. But when it came to endorsements, did you know that he also had astute business sense?


Also, did you know that the King of Pop wasn’t one for the limelight of sponsorship deals? Surprising as it may seem, when it came to his historic partnership with PepsiCo, his altruism shone as brightly as his talent. He agreed to the collaboration primarily for his family…how loving the late music icon-philanthropist was.

Michael Jackson was not fond of sponsorship deals.
Michael Jackson from his music video – They Don’t Care About Us

Yet he had stipulations that highlighted his distinctive style: Jackson insisted he wouldn’t be caught on screen clutching a Pepsi can and that his face would grace the frame for no more than a brief “three-second” flash.


Michael Jackson’s Face-Time Limit in the Pepsi Commercial Endorsement

Michael Jackson and his brothers secured a $5 million contract with PepsiCo in November 1983, setting a record for celebrity endorsements at the time (see Billboard). However, the music legend—who died in 2009 at 50—had two key conditions in his contract that set him apart from other celebrities: he refused to be shown holding a Pepsi can, and his face couldn’t be on screen for more than “three seconds”.

However, Jackson’s partnership with PepsiCo was a testament to his altruism and talent.
Michael Jackson in a still from Smooth Criminal

This unorthodox approach to sponsorship may seem strange in today’s world of influencers and brand deals, but Jackson had a different motivation for signing on with Pepsi. It wasn’t for the money or the fame; it was for his family. According to Historic Vids, Jackson agreed to do the commercial because his family wanted to do it, despite he was never fond of Pepsi.

“Michael was not into sponsorships. He said, ‘this is my thing, I don’t drink Pepsi, this is all for my family’. And Michael didn’t want to do the Pepsi deal. But he said, I gotta do this cuz my family wants it but you have to write two things on the Pepsi contract: number 1, I am never holding a Pepsi can & number 2, I can’t be on screen for more than three seconds’.”

The commercial itself was a hit, and drawing from his creative well, Jackson even suggested his hit Billie Jean be adapted as the campaign jingle.


However, tragedy struck during filming when pyrotechnics accidentally set Jackson’s hair on fire, resulting in second-degree burns on his scalp (per Big News Network).

The Fire That Changed Everything: Michael Jackson’s Pepsi Commercial Disaster Revisited

Pop musician Michael Jackson appeared in a significant Pepsi commercial at the height of his career. It was supposed to be a simple, enjoyable photo shoot, but something went wrong and he sustained long-term physical and psychological harm. Filmed in front of an audience at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in 1984, the Pepsi commercial featured him performing his hit song Billie Jean.

Jackson agreed to the collaboration primarily for his family, but he had specific stipulations that highlighted his distinctive style.
Michael Jackson in the music video of Beat it

The idea for the commercial, which featured Jackson emerging from behind a curtain of sparks, came from Pepsi. As amazing as it appeared, something went wrong and permanently altered his life. A malfunctioning pyrotechnic caused Jackson’s hair to catch fire.


He could not extinguish the fire that had swiftly spread across his head. He sustained severe burns, even though the fire was put out rather quickly. His face and scalp were burned in the second degree, exposing a portion of his skull.

The late music legend received burn and smoke inhalation treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Pepsi apologized and offered him a $1.5 million donation in addition to establishing the Michael Jackson Burn Center for Children. You can watch the video that was made available by US Weekly about the terrifying event.

Sadly, in order to fix the damage, he needed multiple surgeries and hair implants. According to Deseret News, until his death in 2009, he also developed a greater obsession with cosmetic surgery and turned to “painkillers” as a coping mechanism


Regretfully, Jackson suffered severe burns during the incident, which left him critically injured and affected for the rest of his life.


Written by Siddhika Prajapati

Articles Published: 1532

Between everyday normalities and supernatural abnormalities, Siddhika Prajapati finds the story in everything. Literature Honors Graduate and Post-Graduated in Journalism (from Delhi University), her undying need to deduce the extraordinary out of simplicity makes her a vibrant storyteller.

Serving as a Senior Entertainment Writer at Fandom Wire and having written over 1500 pieces, Siddhika has also worked with multiple clients and projects over the years, including Indian Express, India Today, and Outlook Group.

Who knows, maybe your next favorite persona on the screen will be crafted by her.