John Leonard And Family Would Have Had To Drink A Ridiculous Amount Of Pepsi For A Jet

The November 17 release of Netflix's "Pepsi, Where's My Jet?" took us back to the noughties when PepsiCo conceived a marketing campaign that could potentially give them an upper hand in the "Cola Wars." The company's ad agency came up with a brilliant idea to encourage people to buy more Pepsi with a Pepsi Points scheme — customers would get points with every purchase of the soda and could redeem them for Pepsi merch like T-shirts, leather jackets, CD cases, and Fila mountain bikes. To promote the campaign, it debuted a cool commercial featuring a Harrier fighter jet worth 7 million Pepsi points.

The company was obviously not serious about giving away a prize that cost around $33.8 million each to manufacture. As AP News reported back then, it wasn't possible just to create just a single jet. The planes had to be built in batches of 12, so it would take a whopping $405.6 million to get one brand new. And even if a jet could be acquired, no sale to a civilian would be allowed before removing Harrier's weapons and flying ability. But since the ad didn't include a disclaimer to indicate it was a joke, one youngster named John Leonard decided to take PepsiCo at its word.

John Leonard would have had to drink millions of cans of Pepsi

As a young college student, John Leonard didn't have the funds to get himself the Harrier fighter jet by drinking Pepsi. Since Pepsi Points could be bought for 10 cents each, the alternative was to gather enough funds to buy 7 million points. Leonard had successfully persuaded five investors to give him the $700,000 he needed to buy the points, CBS reported. 

"They were counting on there being a ton of dreamers like me, but they just never figured a dreamer like me would ever have access to somebody that was willing to go on this crazy ride and actually would write the cheque," Leonard said of Todd Hoffman, one of the millionaires who funded his dream (via The Guardian). He sent PepsiCo a check and 15 Pepsi labels to redeem them for the jet. 

But what if Leonard had to consume Pepsi for every point? Per The Hustle's estimations, he would have to drink 16.8 million cans of the fizzy drink to gather enough points to get the Harrier fighter jet. Even if Leonard's family volunteered to help him, they would have to drink 46,000 cans of Pepsi a day for a whole year to collect enough points.

Leonard's dreams couldn't take off

John Leonard's story became national news, but that's all he got from his efforts to achieve his outlandish dream. After PepsiCo told him it wouldn't be giving him a jet, he sued the company for breach of contract, alleging that the soda giant failed to deliver on its offer after he met the points requirement. A lengthy lawsuit later, a court ruled that the commercial never made a serious offer and dismissed the case.

Leonard, who works as a park ranger in Alaska today, told The Guardian that he was being "opportunistic" back then, but he believed he would get a jet. So did a few other people. "Maybe he is goofy but I mean they are making those claims, if they can't back them up then they shouldn't be putting them on air," a member of the public told CBS at the time. Per AP News, Leonard had hoped to take people on "thrill rides" on his jet.