In March, when the Covid pandemic first began, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was getting ready to launch his tequila brand, called Teremana.
"We all had to shut down around the world, obviously it affected our businesses large and small," Johnson told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" Wednesday. But the pandemic ended up being fruitful for Teremana. The brand sold more than 300,000 9-liter cases in the past nine months, he said.
During the lockdowns in the spring, off-premise liquor sales rose 34.1%, with more people drinking at home rather than in bars and restaurants, according to Nielsen data.
Johnson said he's "always been a tequila drinker," and had the idea for a tequila business for the past 10 years, but held off launching until three or four years ago when the timing felt right.
"I'm a big proponent of listening to your gut and your instinct," Johnson told CNBC's Carl Quintanilla. "I just wanted to take my time, do it right [and] surround myself with the best partners." Dany Garcia, Jenna Fagnan and Ken Austin are co-founders of the brand along with Johnson.
Johnson made $87.5 million in 2020, according to Forbes. In addition to acting and wrestling, Johnson has a line of Under Armour exercise gear.
When it comes to running a liquor business, "I am learning on-the-go," he said. "Baptism by fire, I like to say."
Of course, the actor and former wrestling star isn't the first celebrity to launch a tequila brand: actor and friend of Johnson's George Clooney owns Casamigos, which sold to Diageo for $1 billion.
To put Teremana's sales in perspective, Johnson said that Casamigos sold 175,090 cases in its first year. "The math is pretty bonkers," he said.
Johnson said that, while Teremana is a celebrity brand first, "this is a legacy play," he said. "Ideally, I'd like to get it to the point where the brand can live on its own without me."
"I always say, I come in and give something the jet fuel then I can hopefully eventually back off," Johnson said.
Teremana's Blanco and Reposado tequlias cost between $30-$33. The company is expected to ship 400,000 cases in March, Johnson said.
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