Addis Ababa – EthiopiaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s greatest athlete of all time and current World marathon record holder, Haile Gebrselassie is now in hot seat after he signed a $100,000 agreement with Diageo to do an ad for Johnnie WalkerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢sÃ‚Â whiskey, wrote the Amharic weekly newspaper, the Ethiopian Reporter.
Haile signed a one-year contract with representatives of Diageo, the maker of Johnnie Walker whisky, at a press conference held at the Sheraton Addis.
The complaints from the media and the public at large is that Haile is considered by many Ethiopians and others around the world as a great role model, and such ad Ã‚Â can send the wrong message to the youth that it is OK to drink alcohol.
When asked about it, Haile downplayed the fear contending that whether he advertised Johnnie Walker or not, those who are under the age of 18 are not allowed to drink by law. And Ã¢â‚¬Å“If people get drunk, it is not my responsibility. They should drink responsibly,” he said.
The newspaper also said that Haile, who admitted that he takes a sip once in a while, tried to convince those who attended the conference that it was not wrong to advertise the alcohol product (whiskey), often regarded as a glamorous gift by many Ethiopians, but warned that people should drink alcohol responsibly.