Gatorade will be required to pay $300,000 as a part of a settlement and complaint filed Thursday by Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who alleges the beverage giant violated consumer protection laws by "making misleading statements about water."
The state alleges that Gatorade's 2012 free game "Bolt!" implies that water can hinder athletic performance.
In the game, players control a cartoon version of eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt as he runs to recover gold coins. The game warns players to avoid water and seek Gatorade to improve performance: The cartoon Bolt runs faster when the player touches a Gatorade icon, and slows down after touching a water droplet.
The complaint argues that advertisement-driven games like "Bolt!" are intended to influence child consumers and would be encouraging children to choose sports drinks with higher sugar content over water, which the American Academy of Pediatrics has said "should be the principal source of hydration for children and adolescents."
"Making misleading statements aimed at our children is beyond unlawful, it’s morally wrong and a betrayal of trust,” said Becerra in a statement. “It's what causes consumers to lose faith in the products they buy.”
$120,000 of Gatorade's settlement pay-out will be used to fund research or education on water consumption and nutrition, according to Becerra's office.
Gatorade will also be required to disclose any endorser relationships in social media posts, will no longer be allowed to advertise in media where children under age 12 make up more than 35 percent of the audience and will be barred from negatively depicting water in their ads.