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50 Cent Once Sued Taco Bell for $4 Million. Here's How the Fast-Food Giant Got on the Rapper's Bad Side. The brand suggested that 50 Cent change his name to match its "Why Pay More?" value menu promotion prices. The rapper was not amused.

By Carl Stoffers Edited by Jessica Thomas

Key Takeaways

  • The lawsuit claimed that Taco Bell's campaign led people to believe 50 Cent endorsed the brand, resulting in a backlash against the rapper for "selling out."
  • In 2009, the lawsuit between 50 Cent and Taco Bell was settled for undisclosed terms, and both parties agreed to cover their own legal fees.
  • Other celebrities, such as Eminem, have sued large brands for using their likeness or work without authorization.

In 2008, Taco Bell launched an ad campaign titled, "Why Pay More?" to promote its value menu, with items priced at $.79, $.89 and $.99. As a joke, the brand suggested that 50 Cent (aka Curtis Jackson) — who was arguably at the height of his fame at the time — change his name to 79, 89 or 99 Cent for the promotion. The rapper was not amused.

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Jackson sued Taco Bell for $4 million for using his name and persona without permission. According to the suit, Taco Bell's campaign led people to believe that 50 Cent had endorsed the brand, resulting in a backlash against the rapper for "selling out."

Taco Bell spokesperson Rob Poetsch defended the campaign at the time, stating, "We made a good faith, charitable offer to 50 Cent to change his name for one day by rapping his order at a Taco Bell, and we would have been very pleased to make the $10,000 donation to the charity of his choice."

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In 2009, the two parties settled the lawsuit, though the terms were not disclosed. Both parties agreed to cover their own legal fees and refrained from discussing the details, with Jackson's lawyer confirming that both sides were satisfied with the resolution.

The 50 Cent/Taco Bell beef is not the only time big-name celebrities have sued a major brand for falsely indicating their endorsement.

In 2011, rapper Eminem sued carmaker Audi for using a song similar to his hit "Lose Yourself" in a commercial for the Audi A6 Avant without his consent. The lawsuit was settled out of court.

In 2014, actress Katherine Heigl sued the drugstore chain Duane Reade for $6 million. Heigl filed the lawsuit after the company tweeted a paparazzi photo of her carrying Duane Reade shopping bags, implying an endorsement without her permission. The case was settled out of court.

In 2022, actor Clint Eastwood was awarded $2 million after winning a suit against a CBD retailer that used his likeness to promote its products.

Carl Stoffers

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior Business Editor

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