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Former Coca Cola Deliveryman Asked To Join Pepsi Generation

March 28, 1987

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ A Pepsi-Cola manager on Friday offered work to a Coca-Cola deliveryman who gave up his job after winning a free trip to the NCAA basketball semifinals in a contest sponsored by Pepsi.

Michael Wilson, 37, who quit his job as a routeman for a Coca Cola bottling after his bosses ″strongly advised″ him to turn down the free trip, said he was not sure whether he would take the offer.

″You’re kidding me, aren’t you?″ Wilson told The Indianapolis Star by telephone from New Orleans, where Indiana takes on Nevada-Las Vegas in a semifinal game Saturday. ″This is a shock. I don’t know what I’m going to do.

″I’ll talk to them and see what they’re offering,″ said Wilson, who quit on Wednesday.

James R. Rogers, area vice president for sales at Pepsi’s Indianapolis plant, said earlier that he offered Wilson the job because ″when it comes to the love of Indiana basketball, nothing should stand in the way.″

Rogers wrote: ″You know, Mike, sometimes even the cola wars play second string and Hoosier Hysteria is one of those times.

″Next week, after IU wins the national championship, we go back at it in the cola wars. This time, we want you on our team. I am pleased to offer you a job with Pepsi,″ the letter said.

Rogers said he also would be heading to New Orleans Friday and would try to contact Wilson, a self-described Hoosier basketball fanatic from Shelbyville.

Ron J. Bryant, Coca-Cola’s general manager in Shelbyville, told The Associated Press that he would not comment on the matter. He said last week Wilson should not accept the Pepsi prize because it represented a conflict of interest.

Although Wilson won the trip in a Pepsi contest, he says all he ever drinks is Diet Coke.

On Friday, Wilson said he would not make any promise to switch to Diet Pepsi even if he accepts the Pepsi job.

″I won’t discriminate against any company,″ he said. ″I’ve been drinking Diet Coke for quite a while. I don’t know if the first taste can do it or not.

″And if anyone asks me what I’ll celebrate with here - Coke or Pepsi - I’ll tell them, ’Beer.‴

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