A 20-year-old Windsor man this past week won tickets and a full-paid trip to attend next month’s Super Bowl game in New Orleans, but was forced to give it up a day later since he is below the legal drinking age of 21 in Louisiana.
The highly-publicized contest at the Bull n’ Barrel, on Ouellette Avenue, took place Thursday night and was open to anyone in attendance.
The contest’s grand prize was valued at $16,000 as it featured two tickets to the game, a four-night stay in New Orleans, air flight, full transportation, meals, $500 in spending money and the ability to attend several exclusive parties staged by contest sponsor Bud Light.
Several public relations staff on behalf of Bud Light and Labatt’s brewery -which oversees the brand -were on hand at the bar running the contest.
Forest Glade resident Tyler Boose was among dozens in attendance provided with a ticket to participate by Bud Light staff. The fine print on the back indicates you “must be 21 to participate” and also notes under the eligibility rules “contest open to any resident of Canada 21 or older.”
Boose, who doesn’t turn 21 until Sept. 20, first saw his name drawn at random to be included among 16 finalists.
Throughout the night, he next participated in variety of skill contests – which included a football toss and other games – that one-by-one eliminated participants. Shortly after 1 a.m., he was among the final two in contention for the Super Bowl package prize.
A coin flip decided the winner and confetti rained down on Boose who was ecstatic to be going to the Super Bowl. He received congratulations from patrons, public relations staff running the contest and even had his photo taken with Bud Light girls in cheerleader outfits.
“I was really happy,” he said at his home on Saturday. “It was really a big deal.”
Boose said at no point from the time when he was given his entry ticket, throughout the contest, or after he was declared the winner did anybody from the public relations staff ask his age or request identification.
“There was not a word about it,” he said.
Boose was asked to sign paperwork and waivers upon the contest’s conclusion, which he now understands further included wording that he had to be 21 to win.
Boose, who works part-time in his family’s consulting business in Leamington, was so excited over his victory he didn’t get to bed until 4 a.m.
But then around noon on Friday, his cell phone rang.
“She (a company representative) said they just went over the paperwork and ‘sorry to say you can’t win,’” Boose said. “That the tickets said you had to be over 21.
“I thought it was bull. They were apologetic, but that it is the rules you have to be over 21.”
The winner needs to meet the drinking age in New Orleans in order to attend Bud Light events and other parties at the Super Bowl.
Bull n’ Barrel staff had nothing to do with running the contest and merely hosted the event, but the bar’s owner Christian Komsa was angry Saturday, claiming on several occasions during the contest announcements by bar staff and beer company reps stated those in the bar had to be age 21 in order to win.
“He entered and the kid knew he couldn’t win and that’s frustrating to me,” Komsa said. “He competed against other people who got beat out because of him.”
Boose claims he did not hear anything said.
Komsa described the Super Bowl contest as one of the bar’s biggest events of the year and was upset it has resulted in controversy. He believes Boose is at fault for going the full length of the contest when he knew he was not eligible.
“The best story here is the runner up,” Komsa said. “He was almost in tears (after losing the coin flip) and now he gets to go to the Super Bowl.”
Kyle Danby, 24, of Windsor is now headed to New Orleans.
“It was harsh to lose on a coin flip,” he said. “I shook his hand and that was it. My mom was up when I got home and I told her I lost on the flip. I’m a big football fan. It was heartbreaking coming that close.”
But then the next morning Danby’s phone rang.
“She said ‘you won the contest, the other guy was ineligible,’” he said. “I was kind of stunned. I had no excitement on the phone, it didn’t kick in. After I hung up, I did a little fist pump.
“It’s amazing. It’s a once in a lifetime thing. You go from thinking you lost, to getting a call saying you are going to the Super Bowl. That’s pretty exciting.”
Danby said he had an agreement with a 25-year-old buddy, who also entered the contest, that if either of them won, they would take the other.
“I guess it’s all worked out in the end,” Danby said.
Public relations staff involved in the contest and corporate officials from Labatt’s brewery exchanged several phone calls with Boose and late on Saturday he agreed to accept an offer to attend a Bud Light Super Bowl party in Toronto to be held at the concert venue Sound Academy.
“When the paperwork was processed and verified, we found that the contest winner was ineligible for the prize,” said Briar Wells, manager of corporate affairs for Labatt Breweries. “Labatt takes the rules and regulations of our contests very seriously.
“Knowing the consumer is a football fan, Bud Light still wants to be sure he and his friends enjoy the game in style. We are providing them with a three night stay in Toronto and VIP access to the NFL Super Bowl party.”
Boose can bring up to seven friends to Toronto, Wells said.
The original contest entry ballot also included reference to the age requirement, she noted.
“This was also communicated throughout the evening to those in the bar and displayed on signage,” Wells said.