Suspect in mislabeled Gatorade pleads guilty
Friday, February 19, 2010
DENVER – A Colorado man who replaced labels on dozens of Gatorade bottles with an image of Tiger Woods and his wife and the word “unfaithful” pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor Friday in an agreement with prosecutors.
Jason Kay’s attorney said he was trying to provoke thought with the changed labels. But the 38-year-old artist pleaded guilty to charge of mislabeling a food product in federal court in Denver.
Kay’s attorney, Paul McCormick, said his client’s crime was that when he replaced the bottles with Tiger Woods’ picture, he put mango Gatorade labels on some orange Gatorade bottles.
“They were really orange, but the consumer was misled into thinking they were mango. That was our crime,” McCormick said.
Prosecutors said the bottles with the replaced labels were found in Safeway and King Soopers stores around Colorado. McCormick said more than 60 bottles were altered but only 11 of the bottles had the incorrect flavor label. None of the bottles appeared to have been opened.
McCormick said Kay was not trying to mislead the public about the bottles’ flavors, and that he regrets putting the items back on the shelf.
An FBI investigator said Kay claimed he considered what he did to be pop art in the style of Andy Warhol.
McCormick said Kay was trying to get people to think about who was more unfaithful – Woods or Gatorade? Gatorade discontinued a drink named after Woods but said it was not because of his recent bad publicity.
PepsiCo’s Gatorade is one of the companies that continues to stand behind Woods.
“The whole idea here was, he has not bad feelings toward Tiger Woods – he’s a golfer himself,” McCormick said about Kay. “The whole idea was to provoke thought.”
McCormick said Kay has had showings of his art, which sometimes include juxtaposing logos with people in the news. McCormick said his previous works have included a picture of Dr. Jack Kevorkian with the Apple superimposed and the line, “Think Different.”
As part of his plea agreement, Kay told investigators how many bottles he mislabeled, where he put them and future projects he was working on. Prosecutors are recommending that Kay be sentenced to three years of probation on May 3.