For the last 2 1/2 months, the Mid Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Company has been running a contest in which first prize is $1,500 worth of sporting goods. All you have to do to go snorkeling or sailboating courtesy of Coke is to amass six bottle caps that read "Have A Coke And A Smile" when you flip them over and line them up.
And if anyone should have been odds on to win, it was JoAnn Moore of Northwest.
JoAnn drinks 10 bottles of Coke a day. That is nearly 12 six-packs every week. That, friends, is a lot of Coke -- and a lot of bottle caps.
JoAnn drank that much Coke before Mid Atlantic's summer promotion, and she says she will drink the same amount afterward. But despite her gargantuan guzzling, she has only won $1.80 (a dime 18 times) of the hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizes Mid Atlantic is offering.
"It's not sour grapes or anything. I guess I'm just one of those people who never wins," says JoAnn, who works as a waitress in a Dupont Circle health food restaurant. (No, they don't serve Coke there.)
JoAnn's problem has been "Smile." She has come up with the "Have" bottle cap, and the "Coke," and the "And," and lots of "A's." But so far, no "Smile."
"That's exactly the way the contest is supposed to work," said Mike McNally, Mid Atlantic's vice president for marketing. "'Smile' is the hardest one to find. If it wasn't hard to win, it wouldn't be a very interesting contest, would it?
"After all, when you sell a product for $1.49, you can't give a $1,500 sailboat to every one of your customers. Besides, she did win something."
The odds of winning 10 cents are one in 25, according to McNally. The odds of winning the grand prize are one in five million. So, statistically, JoAnn doesn't have much of a complaint -- or much of a chance to win the grand prize.
Still, McNally urges JoAnn -- and the thousands like her who think they never win anything -- to take heart.
"One guy bought exactly one bottle of Coke," he said. "Just one. And he won $1,500 from that bottle cap. There's always hope.