There were over 18,000 entries in Japanese retailer Uniqlo’s annual UT Grand Prix T-shirt Design Contest, the most ever in the contest’s history. Last Sunday, the votes were tallied and the winners were announced.
“I felt crazy and unbelievable when I saw the result,” posted Li Wen Pei on winner the Grand Prize. “I read the email several times and finally I confirmed myself it’s really the grand prize. How can that be!?”
Li’s design got the nod from this year’s judges, Pokémon Company President Tsunekazu Ishihara, Pokémon game designer Ken Sugimori and Japanese fashion designer Nigo. Given that the theme of this year’s design contest was “Pokémon” winning was nothing short of incredible!
Before the ink was even dry on the $10,000 grand prize winner’s check, serious fans of the franchise smelled something fishy or just kinda Magikarpy. Turns out Li Wen Pei’s design using three Gyarados, the evolved form of Magikarp. was previously sold at Chinese online megashop, TaoBao, on a cell phone case. TaoBao claims 617 million active users each month so someone was bound to find out. Since the art was used previously, the design was disqualified and the $10,000 prize pulled. Li wasn’t the only disappointed winner though. Second Place winner and runner up Mizukilobyte doesn’t get to step in for the disqualified winner, increasing her prize from $2000 to $10,000. She’ll remain second as will third place winner Emily from the USA.
“UNIQLO, the Japanese global apparel retailer, today announces that it has disqualified the Grand Prize winner and another finalist in its Pokémon-themed UT GRAND PRIX 2019 design contest after learning the designs in question were not in accordance with the terms of that competition” UNIQLO will not award the Grand Prize to another entrant or sell merchandise featuring the designs.”
Of course, since the Grand Prize winner was disqualified, he is now free to sell his design anywhere. Had his obscure, once offered phone case not been discovered, Li Wen Pei would have ONLY received $10,000 and the Pokémon Company would have owned his design outright, no royalties on any t-shirt sales..
Could there be a market for the disqualified winner? We always believe a silver lining is sparkling somewhere. If you’re listening Li, give us a shout. We offer super soft Pima cotton and high quality screenprinting. Get a free estimate.