Theodore Scott, the Stone Mountain man who was a finalist for Gold Peak Tea's contest for $100,000 and a year off from work, plans to pursue legal action against the Coca Cola-owned brand for giving, then taking away, the big prize from him.
Scott, an attorney, was up for the money and extended time off, and over the summer told Patch his story of being a long-time workaholic who could use time reconnecting with his family.
He was notified that he'd won at the end of August, but the announcement didn't go public right away. After Labor Day, he received a notification that he'd been disqualified.
"I immediately replied with an email that I saw nothing in the rules that prohibited requesing votes," Scott told Patch.
He said when he looked over the forum, it sounded like a good idea and could help him. Scott said he got a fellow attorney to look over the rules to make sure he was in compliance.
"Unfortunately, Theodore Scott was disqualified when it was determined during the verification process that he had attempted to inappropriately induce members of the public to vote for his submission, a violation of Official Contest Rules (http://CokeURL.com/TTYORules)," a portion of a statement on the matter reads on Gold Peak's Facebook page.
"They thought it was an inducement to members of the public. I saw nothing I did was an inducement," Scott said. "This was my fellow forum members and forum friends, and friends help each other and friends support each other in causes. Members are not required to vote for each other."
There is support for Scott's situation on the Gold Peak's Facebook page:
Will never purchase another one of your products again. A complete farce, wrote Robert Zartarian.
Gold Peak Tea and Coca Cola, you should be ashamed of the way you treated Mr. Scott. You should have done the verification process before you announced a winner, Will Sheff commented.
Go team Theodore! - Jennifer Stevens Bramley
Scott added that he didn't see other contestants following some of the rules to the letter, such as adhering to a video time limit, using their own words in it and keeping to the contest theme in the essay portion, "yet I'm disqualified for allegedly violating ambiguous rules and they're not disqualified for violating explicit rules," he said.
He said told Gold Peak that he's been embarrased that he's had to tell his friends and family that he's been disqualified. He told Patch the plan is to pursue legal action.
"I'm not going to bite my tongue and leave it at that," he said.