Inside 5-Hour Energy Founder Manoj Bhargava’s Decision to Sacrifice Sports Illustrated

The high-stakes gambit was a calculated risk for the billionaire businessman

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Manoj Bhargava, the billionaire founder of 5-Hour Energy, has only one piece of furniture in his office: a five-shelf bookcase cluttered with rival energy drink brands, many of which no longer exist, a reminder of the competitors he has bested and a testament to his single-minded pursuit of commercial dominance.

A copy of Sports Illustrated would now seem right at home on that shelf.

Soon after Bhargava took control of the esteemed brand’s owner, Arena Group, in late 2023, the publisher suffered through multiple rounds of layoffs and a fractious town hall.

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