Here's Why You Might Recognize Michael Avenatti From Pepsi, Where's My Jet?

The mid-1990s were a wild time with no shortage of scandals to capture the public's attention — the Pam Anderson-Tommy Lee sex tape, Robert Downey Jr.'s downward spiral, and Princess Diana's split from then-Prince Charles, to name just a few (via Insider). But one mid-90s scandal some might remember is the basis for the Netflix docuseries "Pepsi, Where's My Jet?"

The mid-90s "cola wars" pitched Coca-Cola versus Pepsi in an advertising battle. Each employed huge campaigns, with Pepsi getting the likes of Madonna, Michael Jackson and Britney Spears to shill for them. They also created the buzzy "Drink Pepsi Get Stuff" campaign, encouraging people to drink Pepsi and cash in points for cool stuff. One of their ads featured a $23 million Harrier jet with no fine print that it was a joke. Pepsi's top brass merely figured that the huge price tag would make it unattainable. Undeterred, college student John Leonard rose to the challenge and sued Pepsi for the prize when they told him there was, in fact, no jet. There is no shortage of crazy revelations in the docuseries, but amongst the headiest revelations is the involvement of the infamous lawyer Michael Avenatti, who was still a law student at the time (via Salon).

Yes, that Michael Avenatti

Fast forward to 2016: A month before the presidential election, there was a scandal involving then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Trump, through his personal lawyer Michael Cohen, had paid $130,000 to Daniels (whose real name is Stephanie Clifford) in hush money to prevent the actress from disclosing an affair from 2006 (via Insider). Daniels hired Michael Avenatti to represent her in the ensuing legal drama against the former president to release her from the nondisclosure agreement she had signed. Daniels wrote a book about the experience, including the affair, called "Full Disclosure."

Avenatti has fallen on hard times recently. In February 2022, he was convicted of cheating Daniels out of book profits worth $297,500 and sentenced to four years in prison. Before standing trial for the wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, Avenatti was already serving a two and half year sentence for extortion after he tried to get millions of dollars from Nike. Avenatti will serve a combined five years in jail while at the same time pleading guilty to five federal charges of wire fraud in California, which may add to his time (via Reuters). Sounds like he's going to need a lot of Pepsi points to get himself out of his legal troubles.