Evander Holyfield says he earned more than $20 million from his endorsement deal with Coke, which isn't too surprising given that he was world heavyweight champion on several occasions. But the sequence of events that led to his contract is amazing, and two key elements in Holyfield's story are a Pepsi photo and his honesty.

It all started back in 1990 when Holyfield was training in his hometown of Atlanta for a title shot against Buster Douglas. During one of Holyfield's visits to a local Boys Club, a man took a photo of Evander with the kids. Holyfield offered him a ticket to the Douglas fight.

Holyfield knocked out Douglas in the third round. While Holyfield was still in the ring, the photographer ran up with an urgent request: "Hey, Evander, can I use that picture?"

Holyfield agreed. For free.

"I made enough money in the ring," Holyfield says. "For fighting that fight, I got paid $8 million."

The picture ended up on a billboard -- with Pepsi branding.

"Right in front of the Coca-Cola office," Holyfield says.

Holyfield got a call from Coke executives.

"They said, 'How in the world? A guy from Georgia gonna help Pepsi Cola?'" Holyfield says. 

A meeting was set up.

"An older guy, he come up and he says, 'Evander, we see this sign of Pepsi. How much did they pay you to put that picture up there? 'Cause we're gonna pay you to put it down, take it down.'

"I said, 'Well, they ain't paid me nothing.'

"He said, 'What? They didn't pay you nothing?'"

Holyfield then explained how he gave permission to the photographer to use the photo from the Boys Club, not realizing it would become a Pepsi plug. The Coke executive was impressed that Holyfield didn't try to bluff him.

"He said, 'Because you're so honest, you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to give you $2 million to get that picture took down,'" Holyfield says.

Holyfield called the photographer to arrange the removal, and Coke was ready to do more business.

"Then I signed a 10-year contract with them," Holyfield says. "They gave me $2 million a year."

Check out the video above to see Holyfield telling this story, and for more boxing stories go to ESNEWS on YouTube.

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