THE secret whizzkids behind the Prime drink craze storming the UK can be revealed as two former schoolfriends – now set to make £85million this year.
The £2 hydration drink — which went viral on TikTok after a clip showed a girl was charged £145 for six bottles by a shop in Wakefield — is fronted by internet sensations KSI and Logan Paul, who have 140million followers between them.
It has proved a massive success — with one 12-pack of Prime being put up for sale for £50,000.
It sells out within minutes of going on shelves at Asda — the brand’s only official stockist in the UK — where bosses now ration sales to three bottles per person.
The craze has led to reports of kids being bullied to surrender bottles, the product being given security tags and a 17-year-old in Kent being arrested for stealing a case, then later released pending investigation.
Richard Wlodyka, 42, from Battersea, South London, even posted an advert on airtasker.com offering to pay £100 for people to queue and scout different Asda stores from 6am when shelves are stacked, to collect as many Primes as possible.
But despite Brit KSI and American Logan being the faces of Prime, The Sun on Sunday can reveal the brains behind it are publicity-shy US businessmen Trey Steiger and Max Clemons, who own the firm that created the drink.
The pair, both in their twenties, met at school in Louisville, Kentucky, and now control a drinks empire experts say is set to produce ten million bottles a year, making more than £85million.
Trey, 28, lives in a £2.3million luxury modern house with a pool, a 1.4-acre garden and its own dock on a private estate in Florida, while Max, 29, is in a £2.4million high-rise apartment in Nashville, Tennessee.
They own company Congo Brands, which in turn owns Prime Hydration in the US and in the UK.
Prime flavours include Blue Raspberry, Ice Pop, Lemon Lime, Orange, and Tropical Punch and it contains zero added sugar, ten per cent coconut water, electrolytes and antioxidants.
Creators Trey and Max set up the Prime brand earlier this year, recruiting KSI and Logan, and using a similar business model they first employed four years ago for gym supplement Alani.
With their followers either side of the Atlantic on TikTok, YouTube and other social media, KSI and Logan are ideal partners to push the drink internationally.
The multi-millionaire pair, who became friends as boxing rivals, are getting a big but closely guarded fee for the tie-up with Prime.
But Companies House accounts show neither control Prime Hydration UK — owned by its US parent, which in turn comes under the umbrella of Trey and Max’s Congo Brands.
Experts predict that, at its current rate, Prime will become a rival for “fitness drink” giants such as Gatorade and Powerade, generating millions for years to come.
Marketing expert Stefan Drew said: “They are cleverly leveraging the popularity of KSI and Logan Paul, which can be measured in their huge social media followings.
“By using a Brit and an American, they cover both sides of the Atlantic. Using these two with their huge but interconnected followings looks like branding genius.”
Trey and Max met at Pleasure Ridge High School where they bonded over basketball and American football.
Trey said on his teen CV he never missed a day of school and would never miss a day of work.
He also spoke of his pride in working at McDonald’s, saying: “People may say that flipping burgers is an insult, but I want to be that guy.
I’ll cook every burger to perfection and make sure the customer is satisfied.”
Both went on to study accountancy and finance at university, and set up their first drinks business in 2017.
Neither could have imagined that the business would take off in the way it has, with stores being mobbed by youngsters grabbing bottles before they sell out.
On Teeside, a group of teens queued from 6am to rush a branch of Asda and clear the shelves.
Other reports have said parents are being pestered to travel hundreds of miles to get their hands on the drink, often without success.
Shortages have led to it regularly being sold for more than the standard £2 for a 500ml bottle.
Some have even paid for empty Prime bottles they refill with another drink then post on social media.