Netflix’s four-part docuseries titled ‘Pepsi, Where’s My Jet?’ delves into John Leonard’s unlikely tryst with fame as he wagered a legal battle against Pepsi. In 1995, John devised a way to collect enough points to redeem them for a Harrier fighter jet. It was seemingly promised in one of Pepsi’s ads that featured a promotional campaign where customers could buy Pepsi to collect points and then redeem them for merchandise. So, if you’re wondering what John currently does for a living and where he might be today, we’ve got you covered.
What Does John Leonard Do?
John Leonard grew up in Washington, and right from the beginning, he loved being out in the mountains. Being a climbing guide was one of his many jobs when he was younger. During the 1990s, John’s climbing career began when he worked as a guide at Alpine Ascents International and went on expeditions to Mount Rainier in Washington, Aconcagua in Argentina, and Denali in Alaska.
Apart from that, John climbed the highest peaks on each continent, including Mount Everest. In 1999, John started working for the National Park Service as a backcountry ranger for Mount Rainier. About three years later, he became a mountaineering ranger at Denali National Park and received his federal law enforcement commission in 2004. In September 2009, John became the Acting South District Ranger at Denali National Park after the person preceding him retired.
Regarding his job, John said, “The rangers here are highly skilled mountaineers, medics, and rescue workers. Before they’re hired, they’re screened heavily to see if they have the experience necessary. It’s unlike other jobs. There’s no on-the-job training. It’s much like the traditional work that park rangers do – emergency services, resource protection, law enforcement, search and rescue; we just do it at a higher elevation.”
John’s main job as a mountain ranger is to keep the climbers safe and the mountain clean. They are also assisted by volunteers visiting from different places around the world. John added, “During the patrol, we deal with emergencies as they come up, as well as regular routine ranger work. A day can be anything from picking up garbage or answering a visitor’s questions one minute – to performing a high-altitude rescue the next minute. The reason we are on the mountain is first and foremost for resource protection.”
In mid-2009, John and his team of rangers and volunteers encountered a Croatian climber, Jadranka Luca-Mrden, on Denali. Despite having no injury or sickness, she demanded an airlift from around 14,200 feet. While Jadranka eventually got her way, the rangers weren’t too chuffed. John said, “For about six days, we took the stance that we were not going to fly her off. The last thing in the world we ever wanted to do was fly this person off. We’re here to rescue people in true emergencies. This was a misuse and abuse of the system for us, because it was such a drain on our resources. We kept having to feed and take care of her and deal with her.”
It seems that John, the former chief mountaineering ranger at Denali National Park, currently serves in the DC Bureau of the National Park Service. Regarding what a prospective climber has to do before scaling the summit, he said, “We’re one of the only places where each climber is required to sit through a two-hour orientation, and those vary depending on the experience level and if the climber’s been here before. … The gist of it is we expect people to come here and climb clean and follow that principle of leaving only footsteps and taking only pictures.”
Who is John Leonard’s Wife?
John has settled in Alaska and currently lives with his family in Talkeetna, Alaska. He is married to Dottie, and they have a son and daughter. While it’s unclear what Dottie does presently, we can be sure that the St. Louis, Missouri, native is a loving mother to their children. Since the Pepsi fiasco, John’s priorities have been his family and his passion: climbing. They seem to be doing well and are regularly visited by his mother and the kids’ grandmother, Linda.
Read More: Where is John Leonard Now?