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Pentagon Says: Sorry, You Can’t Buy Jet In Pepsi Ad But Member Of The Lawsuit Generation Wants His Harrier

Fri., Aug. 9, 1996

Sorry, folks. The Pentagon says nobody but the military will be flying its Harrier jets that take off and land vertically.

Defense Department spokesman Kenneth Bacon says neither Pepsi nor the 21-year-old business student who wants a jet like the one pictured in a Pepsi ad will be able to get one.

“It will not be possible now,” Bacon said.

Any U.S. military aircraft has to be “demilitarized” before it can be sold to a member of the public, Bacon said, and that means it would be stripped of its armament and rendered unable to fly.

Referring to the attempt by John Leonard of Seattle to obtain a Harrier through a Pepsi promotional offer, Bacon said, “So even if the lad were able to get … a plane from Pepsi, it would not be one he could fly.”

Leonard sued PepsiCo Inc. on Tuesday, demanding that the soft-drink maker give him a Harrier jet like the one pictured in a Pepsi Stuff TV commercial.

The Pepsi promotion entices customers to rack up points on beverage containers and claim prizes. In what it says was a jest, the company “offered” the jet for 7 million beverage points.

Leonard would have had to have drunk 16.8 million cans of Pepsi to earn the Harrier. He said in his suit he called the company and was told he had the option of buying Pepsi points for 10 cents each.

Leonard then rounded up five investors and, on March 28, delivered to Pepsi 15 original Pepsi points plus a check for $700,008.50 for the remaining 6,999,985 points, “plus shipping and handling.”



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