Jamie O Has Wings


By Stuart Cornuelle

Jamie O'Brien has freakish, otherworldly relationships with two things: Pipeline and Red Bull. Jamie leads the growing cadre of professional surfers with a Red Bull sticker front and center on their boards, but Jamie's attachment to the energy drink mega-brand goes beyond mere sponsorship. His blood runs with taurine. He urinates excess B-12. His Twitter stream is a real-time love letter to his favorite sugary refreshment. He agreed to tell us about it.

SURFING MAGAZINE: How much Red Bull do actually you go through?

They usually send 12 cases a month to my house [roughly 9 cans per day], but now we have Red Bull Cola, too. So now we probably get 15 or 20 cases per month. We power through them really quick. I drink five or maybe eight a day.

Regular or sugar free?

I drink everything.

Do you worry about all the caffeine? [Each can contains the caffeine equivalent of 1.6 espresso shots.]

No, I'm psyched, I just drink it. It's like juice to me already, I've been drinking it for that long. [Jamie has been on the Red Bull team for over a decade now.]

Do you like any other kinds of soda?

Just Red Bull Cola. I don't know, it's free and it tastes good, so I figure why not?

Are you a coffee drinker?

No. I like those caramel Frappuccinos, but that's about it.

And you have no concern over the potential health risks of so much sugar, aspartame, etc...?

Mmm...nah, whatever. I mean, at least I'm not out there doing drugs like an idiot. I just like to drink and live my life how I live it.

They're your main sponsor now, yes?

Yeah, well they've moved up to the number one spot on my board, which is the nose placement. They have a lot of resources; I mean, they have more money than God. They're a great company, they help out their team and make you feel like family.

What are you going to do for clothes now?

Salvation Army is gonna sponsor me. [Laughs]. Nah, I'm just cruising right now. Uncle Eddie hooked me up with some Da Hui gear, so I'm stoked for now. Just gonna wait and see what happens.

If you could get any clothing sponsor, who would you like to ride for? Who makes the best product, in your opinion?

I donno, I like Billabong's clothes, Hurley's clothes, Quiksilver's clothes -- it's all good stuff. I want something that I actually like to wear, something that looks alright.

Besides drinks, what else does the company do for you? [Red Bull is renowned for treating its athletes to parties, events and world-class training facilities.]

They just want us to be stoked. Like, I said to them, "Hey, do you think you guys would want to do something to trick out my front deck?" And they said, "Yeah, how much do you want?" and they threw a bunch of money at me so I could get a Jacuzzi, a crazy deck -- and then the day I won the [Volcom Pipeline Pro] contest, they threw me a huge rager. And the deck was still standing in the morning.