Did John Leonard get the Pepsi harrier jet? Did he get anything after PepsiCo court case, who is Todd Hoffman

John Leonard features in the Netflix docuseries Pepsi, Where’s My Jet which follows his attempts to get the soft drinks company to give him a military jet

Netflix documentary miniseries Pepsi, Where’s My Jet? follows two friends, John Leonard and Todd Hoffman, as they embark on a hairbrained idea to sue Pepsi for a military jet. The unbelievable true story took place in the 1990s when Pepsi was pouring millions into advertising as it aimed to win over Coca-Cola drinkers.

John Leonard

Who is John Leonard?

John Leonard was a student when he took on the multi-billion dollar multinational soft drinks company PepsiCo in the 1990s. Leonard saw Pepsi’s advert, released in 1996, that showed consumers could gain Pepsi points by buying bottles of cans of the soft drink and trade the points in for different rewards.

The ad showed that 90 Pepsi points could net you a t-shirt, 120 points could be traded for a pair of sunglasses, and 1,400 points was worth a leather jacket. At the end of the advert, a teenage boy lands a Harrier Jet outside a school and quips ‘sure beats the bus’. Then, crucially, text flashes stating that the jet could be traded for 7 million Pepsi points.

It would have cost Leonard millions to bulk buy enough cans of Pepsi, pay for warehouses to store them, and hire staff to peel the coupons - daunted, he found another way to beat the system.

John Leonard and Todd Hoffman in the arctic

Pepsi has also stated that Pepsi points could be bought for 10 cents each, so Leonard teamed up with his friend, and business owner Todd Hoffman. The pair met whilst mountain climbing, and despite Todd being two decades older, they became close friends.

Leonard and Hoffman attempted to give Pepsi their cheque for $700,000, but were rebuffed by the company who said that the ad was an obvious joke. Eventually the case was taken to court in 1999.

Did John Leonard get a Harrier jet?

No, John was unsuccessful in court, the case, which became known as the Pepsi Points Case, was presided over by judge Kimba Wood. Whilst Leonard claimed that he was entitled to a Harrier jet as there was no disclaimer on the advert, Wood found in favour of PepsiCo.

She said that no reasonable person would believe that the advert constituted a serious offer. Hoffman stated that Wood supported Pepsi in the case because she was a corporate lawyer.

What happened to John Leonard?

It’s been 25 years since Leonard took on Pepsi, and he seems to be over his lack of Harrier jet. Now, aged 48 he is living in Talkeetna, Alaska and works as a national Park Ranger. He has a wife named Dottie and the couple have a daughter and son. He and Hoffman have remained friends and recently embarked on an expedition to climb Mount Vinson, the highest peak in Antarctica.

Todd Hoffman attends “Pepsi, Where’s My Jet?” Activation on November 18, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Netflix)

Speaking to The Guardian this month, Hoffman said of Leonard: “He’s certifiably insane. He holds a job. He has a beautiful family. He has a house and pays a mortgage and goes to work every day, but he’s got some real mental things going on. Way outside the box.”

Leonard and Hoffman both feature in the Netflix documentary - on the trailer Leonard explains that he really just wanted the jet. He has since said that he really believed that he would be successful and didn’t pursue Pepsi because he wanted publicity.