Contests, Facebook, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, Social Media, Social Networking Websites, Technology

Ennui. Rhymes With Crap Tea.

When I was a kid, I dreamed of becoming president. When I got older and realized becoming president would require a ridiculous amount of work on my part, I settled on the only dream worth a damn in this country: I want to win the lottery. And not some rinkydink $1 or $2 million jackpot, either. I want to win a bunch of money. I’m an adult American and I daydream about winning the Powerball at least three times a week.

And I suspect that this does not distinguish me from many of my peers in the legal community. I don’t have hard stats on this, but anecdotal evidence gleaned from conversations with several of my friends who hate being lawyers suggests that ninety-seven percent of recent law school graduates want nothing more than to win the lottery and tell the miserable senior associate who made them work last weekend to get bent.

Theodore Scott knows what I’m talking about. He’s an attorney who spent 22 years getting beat down by the legal profession and thought he had found a way out….

As the New York Times detailed yesterday, all Theodore Scott had found was Fool’s Gold. Peak Tea.

Theodore Scott is a 60-year-old attorney from Decatur, Georgia. At an age when most men are spending all their time dreaming of an unswollen prostate, Scott chose to dream of something bigger than said enormous prostate. Scott entered a contest sponsored by Gold Peak Tea, called “Take the Year Off,” that promised a year off from his awful job as a lawyer and a $100,000 prize. Let’s ignore for a moment that most people can’t just take a year off from work because Gold Peak Tea tells them they can. Let’s not be pedants here. Let’s leave that to Gold Peak Tea.

Anyway, Theodore Scott entered a contest and won the contest and “Everybody is shouting and laughing and crying and so happy,” Mr. Scott said. “It’s just like we won the Super Bowl or won the lottery.” It’s just like he won the lottery. One day, he was stuck in a dead-end job as a 60-year-old attorney probably wondering whether he’d ever find a career he loved. The next, he was a lottery winner. But the next next day, he was told by Gold Peak Tea that his lottery win was invalid because he used something called an online contest forum and solicited for votes on Gold Peak Tea’s Facebook page. There was a rule against such behavior. Scott broke it. Gold Peak Tea broke Scott.

If you clicked on this post looking for a sober discussion of contest-rule law, you’re in luck. Boom:

Linda A. Goldstein, a partner and chair of the advertising, marketing and media division at the law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips said there was “a very strong” legal precedent in the courts for upholding contest rules.

“There’s a broad discretion for the sponsor to disqualify an entrant,” said Ms. Goldstein, who has worked with Coca-Cola in the past. “The precedent in the courts for upholding the rules in the sponsor’s favor is quite strong.”

You know what else is quite strong? Theodore Scott’s hatred of his chosen profession.

I could go on and on about the legal implications of contest rules (I could not go on and on), but instead I want to focus on Theodore Scott and how emo he is. See here:

An image on Gold Peak Tea’s Facebook page promoting the contest that showed a woman kneeling against a file cabinet appearing to scream caught Mr. Scott’s attention. “I get it. I see where she is. I understand her,” he said in an interview last week. In his contest entry, Mr. Scott described how his job had taken him away from his family. “I had a family. I had a home,” Mr. Scott’s letter began. “But I let my career defer them. I let my debts outweigh them. I let deadlines sideline them. I let an office, computer, phone, and e-mails crush them.”

I get it too, Mr. Scott. I get it too.

So Theodore Scott has done what any 60-year-old who gets disqualified from an online contest would do and started a Twitter account to fight this terrible injustice. If your engine runs on the tears of the downtrodden, make sure to follow him.

As for me, I’m going to go buy some Powerball tickets. No one on their deathbed says they wish they bought fewer Powerball tickets.

Winner Uses Contest Site and Loses Grand Prize [New York Times]
Go Team Theodore [Twitter]
Lawyer Briefly Wins Contest for a Year Off Work [ABA Journal]

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