Hockey lover wins a luxury vacation. Atlanta pro team backs out of deal.
Atlanta Gladiators Team president blames the pandemic.
ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - On Feb. 1, 2020, Gas South Arena in Gwinnett County was packed with thousands of Atlanta Gladiator hockey fans. A month and a half before the pandemic canceled the remainder of the season.
A great night for the Gladiators beating the Norfolk Admirals 7-0. After the first goal, fans hurled hundreds of stuffed teddy bears onto the ice for the teams annual Teddy Bear Toss for charity.
Later in the game, the Gladiators held a drawing for a 6-day, 5-night all-expense paid vacation to Costa Rica. They promoted the trip on social media to lure more fans to the game. Once fans paid for a ticket, they were eligible to enter the drawing at a fan booth set up inside. The prize included first-class tickets on Delta Airlines, plus limousine transportation to a luxury vacation home.
Blaine Byers, a long-time Gladiators fan, says he’s never won a contest before. He was shocked when the announcer drew his name out of a hat.
“It was one of the coolest nights of my life for sure,” Byers told CBS46′s consumer investigator Better Call Harry, “I kind of looked at my wife and said, oh my gosh, they just said my name!” Byer’s wife posted it on social media, “Sounds like a win-win for me!”
The excitement didn’t last.
“Monday rolls around and nobody calls, so I called them on Tuesday, and they act like they don’t know who I was or what was going on,” Byers said.
WATCH: FULL INTERVIEW WITH ATLANTA ATTORNEY AT BOTTOM OF PAGE
Days turned into weeks. Towards the end of February, a Gladiators representative emailed Byers and said he was waiting on one of the team’s partners to provide additional information. Then, on March 12, 2020, the East Coast Hockey League canceled the remainder of the season.
Byers never got his prize. He says the Gladiator’s team president Jerry James promised to work something out, but eventually stopped responding.
“I wouldn’t think that you could advertise online and on Facebook this huge giveaway on the busiest night of the season without actually having the trip to give away,” Byers said.
James spoke with CBS46′s Better Call Harry in March and again last week. He blamed the pandemic but did offer two first-class vouchers on Delta Airlines.
Byers says the vouchers are only good until the end of this year and that the expenses for lodging and transportation are now his responsibility.
CBS46 spoke to multiple attorneys who all say based on Georgia law, the winner could sue for breach of contract and should be given a cash equivalent or something of equal value to what he was promised.
“There’s not a lot of wiggle room here and it’s just going to come down to whether the person that won the sweepstakes is going to let the Gladiators off the hook or not,” attorney Matt Wetherington explained.
See the full interview below.
The ongoing dispute over the prize might have soured most fans, but with the Gladiators back on the ice, Byers and his family are back in the stands. He says he will continue to support the team, but at the same time he will not give up on the vacation he won more than two years ago.
“I’m going to keep going until this is resolved,” Byers explained.
CBS46 gave President James multiple opportunities to speak on camera or provide a statement. He hasn’t responded.
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