Milk can wreck your health. But the winner of this weekend’s Indianapolis 500—a 500-mile race around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway—will likely down a bottle of milk. It’s a dairy industry tactic meant to market milk to the event’s nearly 7 million fans.
When did things go off track? It started when Indy 500 winner Louis Meyer drank buttermilk after winning in 1936. That’s when the dairy industry raced in.
“An executive with what was then the Milk Foundation was so elated … he vowed to make sure it would be repeated in coming years,” according to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
It mostly has—with a break from 1947 to 1955. But in 1956, the American Dairy Foundation offered the winner $400 for drinking a bottle of milk. Today the bonus is $10,000, according to the Daily Express.
But nobody wins when they drink milk, despite American Dairy Association Indiana’s “Winners Drink Milk!” Indy 500 campaign. Dairy products are the No. 1 source of saturated fat in the American diet, which increases the risk of heart disease. Scientific evidence also shows that milk and other dairy products increase the risk of breast, ovarian, and prostate cancers, cognitive decline, and early death, and offer little if any protection for bone health. Dairy products also cause bloating, diarrhea, and gas in the tens of millions of Americans who are forced to suffer from lactose intolerance.
Instead, this year’s winner and fans should follow the lead of 1993 winner Emerson Fittipaldi who turned down milk and opted for orange juice. Or stick to simple hydration, because “Winners Drink Water!”