AnalysisGuest Post

The Kombucha Question: Could Floyd Be Telling the Truth?


This post was guest-written by Luke Braun, who is a writer for Purple PTSD and co-host of the Purple Journal Podcast. Since before he can remember, he was immersed in the ups and crippling downs of Vikings fandom. In adulthood, he’s taken an analytical approach to evaluation, but the compelling stories of each NFL player are not lost on him. Outside of football, Luke works in digital media and the film industry, giving him a unique perspective on the characters and story of the NFL.

On Friday, TMZ dropped a bombshell on an otherwise quiet time of year by reporting that Michael Floyd had violated the terms of his DUI sentence just five days before the end of his house arrest. Floyd and his camp quickly responded with a statement of his own.


On June 10, 2017, Michael watched movies at his place of residence until 3:00 a.m. During that time, he drank several bottles of kombucha tea drinks, unaware that the drinks contain alcohol.

On June 11, 2017 at 5:30 a.m., Michael was tested and his blood alcohol content was .055. Michael was tested again at 5:54 a.m. and his blood alcohol content was down to .045. Michael was tested again at 6:23 a.m. and his blood alcohol content was .044. He then went back to sleep and missed a test at 6:33 a.m.


Floyd called the allegations “totally false.” But Floyd’s story and timeline don’t quite add up. Using and some basic math, we can get a rough idea of how much kombucha tea it would take to get Michael Floyd’s BAC up to .055 at the time of testing. Since we’re comparing to a mild drink like kombucha tea, we’ll start with a light beer, something like a Labatt Blue, then convert it later. If you disagree with any of these estimations, or simply want to play along, go to that linked site and play around.

For Floyd, a 27 year-old, 225-pound male, it takes about five 12oz Labatts over two hours to get to a BAC around .055. Converted to tea, that’s around 350 oz, or about 10.5 liters- five of these and change. But according to Floyd’s timeline, Floyd “watched movies at his place of residence until 3:00 a.m.”, drinking tea throughout the night. That’s not a two hour window. Since Floyd went to bed at 3:00 and watched multiple movies, we’ll estimate he started around 10:00. With five hours of aggressive tea chugging and two and a half hours of sleep, we’ll enter an even seven hour drinking period (since your metabolism slows down while sleeping). For someone of Floyd’s size, it would take 9-10 Labatts to reach a .055 BAC in seven hours. Converting that to tea is where it gets silly.

Labatts has a 5% ABV or alcohol by volume. Kombucha tea (the “under 21” kind that isn’t classified as an alcoholic beverage) has a maximum of .5% ABV. To achieve the same amount of alcohol consumption, Floyd would have to consume 1,190 ounces of kombucha tea. That translates to around 35 liters or 10 gallons. Enough to fill up this fish tank. Floyd would have had to drink 85 of these 14oz bottles of tea. Even if we adjust for Floyd’s likely low body fat content, low tolerance from his hiatus from drinking, possible water or food breaks or issues with my math, achieving any sort of buzz off of kombucha tea would require a cartoonish level of kombucha chugging.

Put simply, Michael Floyd didn’t get drunk off kombucha tea alone.

Michael Floyd’s situation is a warning sign to recovering alcoholics everywhere, but my comrade Joe Johnson can speak much more eloquently to that than I can. The most important thing in all of this is him getting the help he needs. We can all agree on that. But there are other factors here as well.

Risk is a difficult concept to evaluate because probability is hard to explain in sports. You may have a coin flip’s chance at converting a 4th down, but the decision will be judged differently depending on which side of the coin turned up. Hindsight bias runs rampant in sports analysis, and that will never change. Risks aren’t inherently bad, they just need to be properly evaluated. As Joe put it, Michael Floyd was a huge risk, and wasn’t behaving like the kind of alcoholic who is ready to take his sobriety seriously. With a low probability of success, you tend to spend less on the gamble. If you were asked to try and predict a dice roll, you’d bet less on that than a coin flip. It’s easier to lose the dice roll. That’s why Michael Floyd’s contract has no dead cap associated with it– releasing Floyd right now carries no tangible penalty. Floyd’s relapse would hurt immensely more if we had to carry any sort of penalty, but thankfully, Spielman and Brzezinski hedged against this. We may have to eat some bad press, plus some lower-tier players lost valuable OTA reps, but that’s about it. The Vikings can freely move on as if the signing never happened.

In the NFL, actions have equal and opposite reactions. Assuming Floyd is released, Laquon Treadwell just lost his biggest competitor for the 3rd WR spot behind Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Those on the roster fringe have one more slot to compete over, so the loss of Floyd benefits marginal names like Stacy Coley, Isaac Freuchte or even Moritz Böhringer. If a player could make the roster instead of the practice squad, that practice squad slot opens up for those like R.J. Shelton or Cayleb Jones.

Football footnotes aside, the real story is one of dependence and responsible alcohol consumption. I strongly recommend you download one of these apps, which can help you stay informed about your BAC and level of impairment. If you think you’re ok to drive, check the math first. Even if you aren’t a drinker, it’s a good tool to have in case a friend needs some talking down. Any tool is a good tool if it helps us stay responsible.

Thanks for reading!

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Sam Neumann

Sam Neumann is a freelance writer and lifelong Vikings apologist. He has seen his share of Vikings-related heartbreak, but believes we are united by the hope that one day that norse ship will come in. Sam is the author of three books, including the New York Times Bestseller Memoirs of a Gas Station. He lives in Denver, Colorado, and has had it with Broncos fans. You can follow him on twitter @NeumSamN.

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  1. I don’t know the specifics of his legal or NFL situation, but does it really matter how the alcohol entered his system? From an NFL perspective, I had always believed that ignorance of product content was an invalid excuse. Or….was that only for PEDs?

    1. That’s a very good point, and it definitely is that way with PEDs. I think if a player were to actually ingest alcohol accidentally (i.e. kombucha), there would be some leniency from the NFL. But perhaps that’s naiive.

  2. While he totally should be held accountable for drinking something with Alcohol in it. Kombucha has been found to actually contain up to 2.5% alcohol. So yes you could get drunk off it without drinking 10 gallons pretty easily.

    “Samples of several brands were sent to the University of Maine, Crum recounts, where tests showed alcohol levels of 0.5 percent to 2.5 percent by volume. (Beer tends to be around 5.0 percent.)”

    1. Good point, if all of the tea he drank rated 2.5%, that knocks it down to 2 gallons (if my math is correct). Some interesting information about it on WebMD, indicating there are several manufacturers that use varying amounts of sugar in the fermentation process. More sugar = more alcohol.

      They also state it should be kept refrigerated to decrease the likelihood of additional fermentation. Theoretically, you could open one up, add more sugar, leave it sitting out and let the residual yeast re-kindle the fermentation to create more alcohol.

      1. Very interesting, guys. 2.5% would actually qualify as a light beer in some countries (I’ve regretfully made this mistake in Australia, for example). Still, 2 gallons of kombucha is more than any reasonable person would drink in a day, much less around midnight.

  3. “…..a cartoonish level of Kombucha chugging.” Literary statement of the year!!!!!

    Excellent analysis. I put forth one counter argument: Floyd tested 0.0% for 91 consecutive days of his house-arrest, had 5 days left before he put it behind him and could drink (safely) to his heart’s content.
    1 – Why risk it by drinking any sort of alcohol, KNOWING he would be tested numerous more times?
    2 – He never drank a can of Kombucha prior to that night?
    3 – The lack of any official follow up reporting is highly suspicious.

  4. Drinking 2 gallons of tea over 7 hours is not cartoonish or all that unusual, at all – particularly for a fit guy his size. That’s 2 of those gallon Arizona iced tea bottles (128oz) – each which are a little more than 6 of the Arizona iced tea big-cans (20 oz). Drinking a dozen or so of those big cans over, say, 6 hours – a can every half hour – is a lot of hydrating… but not particularly outrageous. Especially for a big guy who works out a ton, sweats a lot, etc.

    People drink more actual beer than that over a 6-7 hour period.

    He should have known that this kind of tea had alcohol in it. But, honestly, they need to go to his residence and see if he’s telling the truth or not.

  5. Let me preface this comment by saying, I’m entirely undecided and don’t know enough facts to form a fair opinion on the matter, but I hope he’s telling the truth… with that said, the name brand, low alcohol content, Kombucha you can buy bottled at your local store is one thing but people have been brewing their own, stronger kombucha for millennia. Dude is a rich, NFL player, it’s very possible he has the resources to brew his own or he has someone to do it for him. Kombucha contains alcohol through the process of fermentation so it’s not like he would knowingly be dumping a bunch of alcohol in some tea he’s having brewed. Now, all this could be conjecture and he might have straight up drank some beers, but it’s very possible that he drank some home-brewed kombucha with a significantly higher alcohol % than some kombucha you’d buy at the store. Again, I don’t have a clue what happened, but his story isn’t completely out of the question.

  6. When testing for alcohol via breath you are wanting to test the air that comes from deep in the lungs. This gives the most accurate reading and is the air that the machine is calibrated to measure. If he was drinking the tea in the minutes leading up to the test he could still have residual alcohol in his mouth that would result in the positive and artificially elevated tests. This is why police officers don’t rush you in from the street and have to take a breath test ASAP for someone who is suspected of a DUI. They sit you down do some paperwork and use a waiting/observation period to document the fact you didn’t drink any booze (or more commonly burp any up) in the minutes leading up to the test. This is why they will refuse any requests for water during this period. They don’t want to start that observation period over while your BAC is dropping naturally and they want to document the fact they did not observe you putting anything in your mouth.

    Of course none of this means a damn because even a tiny bit of booze is too much in the eyes of the court. It could mean the he might be telling the truth though. If you were to consistently take a drink of the tea before blowing into the machine it would show those elevated levels without having to drink the many liters of tea.

    I would be interested to see any following tests to see if his readings declined consistently as natural, or irradically as it would for mouth alcohol.