Beers kill dream All Blacks UK trip for fan

ROB KIDD
Last updated 05:00 14/10/2012
Nick Ashton
BRUCE MERCER/Fairfax NZ
GROUNDED: Nick Ashton won a competition with Lion Nathan to see the All Blacks play in England but has been denied the prize due to a drink driving conviction.

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Beer will never taste quite the same for one All Blacks fan.

On Wednesday, Nick Ashton, 26, got a phone call most Kiwi blokes dream about. A representative from Lion Breweries told him his name had been drawn for an all-expenses-paid trip for two to London to see the All Blacks play England on their end of year tour.

Ashton entered the competition more than a dozen times, buying plenty of the sponsor's product, Steinlager, and sending in his details on the back of empty cartons. He was about to crack open a celebratory beer when the voice on the end of the phone asked him if he had any criminal convictions.

''Four beers on an empty stomach'' earlier this year pushed Ashton just over the legal limit and landed him with a drink driving conviction that meant he was no longer eligible for the prize.

He called back to ensure it wasn't an elaborate prank and when it became clear that was not the case, he begged Lion to reconsider. After a call to their legal team, the answer was still no.

"I was gutted, big time," Ashton said. "It was the trip of a bloody lifetime."

He acknowledged he had been stupid for drinking and driving but said it was hypocritical for the alcohol producers to exclude him when the odds of winning the competition increased the more beer he bought.

When asked if there was any hypocrisy in the decision, Lion's external relations manager Judy Walter said: "I don't believe so at all. If you asked pretty much anybody, I think they'd support the decision." Walter said the company was unapologetic about its stance.

"The fact that he's misused the product is completely his issue," she said. "He made a foolish decision at some point and it's something we can't condone."

She confirmed the company had sent Ashton some apparel, something they did not have to do.

"It's not like I'm an axe murderer or a drug dealer," Ashton said, adding it might be some time before he could stomach another Steinlager.

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- Sunday Star Times

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