Todd Hoffman, ‘the math that Pepsi didn’t do’ is a close friend of John Leonard, the brains behind the Pepsi Points case. In the 1990s the pair became American legends when they took on the multi-billion dollar fizzy drinks company.
Now, more than 20 years since the Pepsi Points ruling, Hoffman has revisited his place in American legal history in a new Netflix documentary, speaking about how the scheme came about, and why he agreed to get involved. This is everything you need to know about Todd Hoffman:
Who is Todd Hoffman?
Todd Hoffman, who shares a name with Discovery’s Gold Rush star, is an American businessman. He had made millions from his business ventures and spent his free time enjoying the outdoors, often going on extreme mountaineering trips.
Hoffman enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame in 1999 when he and his friend John Leonard took Pepsi to court - he has featured a minor resurgence this month following a release of the Netflix documentary, Pepsi, Where’s My Jet?
The infamous Pepsi Points case, now a major case study in American law lectures, saw Hoffman and Leonard sue PepsiCo for a military grade jet over what they saw as false advertising.
How did Todd Hoffman meet John Leonard?
Hoffman and Leonard became friends before the Pepsi Points case - the two met on Mt. Denali in Alaska, where Leonard was working as a junior climbing guide, and despite Hoffman being 20 years older than Leonard, they developed a strong bond that had lasted for decades.
The pair teamed up on a madcap mission to try and wrangle a Harrier jet for a fraction of the value thanks to a 1990s Pepsi ad campaign. Leonard had seen an advert which claimed you could trade points gained from buying Pepsi bottles and cans for goodies such as a leather jacket, pair of sunglasses or - for 7 million points - a Harrier jet.
There was no disclaimer on the advert saying that this wasn’t a serious offer, so Leonard took them up on it. He did not have the funds to buy 7 million cans of pop but he found a loophole, as Pepsi had stated that points could also be bought at 10 cents each - meaning that the amount needed for the $23 million jet was just $700,000. That’s where Hoffman came in.
Leonard believed that Hoffman was one of the few people in America who was both mad enough to take on Pepsi and had the funds to back up his bluster. In an interview with The Guardian he described Hoffman as ‘the math that Pepsi didn’t do.’
Where is Todd Hoffman now?
In the end, the judge on the Pepsi Points case, Kimba Wood, rejected Leonard’s claims and denied recovery. This meant that the pair did not get their Harrier jet and left court empty handed, though Hoffman had saved $700,000.
Since the ruling, Leonard moved to Alaska where he works as a park ranger, and he and Hoffman still get together for mountain adventures. Hoffman is still a businessman with ventures in the car industry and real estate.
Hoffman had previously had a brain tumour removed in 1992, and last year he was diagnosed with cancer. However, he persevered with his goal, against his doctor’s advice, to join Leonard on an expedition to climb Mt. Vinson, the highest mountain in Antarctica.