Canadian Super Bowl Contest Winner Denied Entry To U.S. Because He Smoked Pot In 1981

A Canadian man who beat out four million competitors to win a fantasy football league’s grand prize of tickets to last night’s Super Bowl was stopped at the border and denied entry because U.S. customs officials discovered he had a minor pot possession conviction on his record from 1981.

Myles Wilkinson was 19 years old when he was caught carrying two grams of marijuana and paid a $50 fine. Nearly 32 years later, he’s still paying for that infraction:

A Vancouver Island man who won an all-expenses-paid trip to the Super Bowl in New Orleans has been refused entry into the U.S. because of a marijuana possession conviction dating back to 1981.

Victoria resident Myles Wilkinson won the trip in a fantasy football league contest, competing against nearly four million other players for the chance to attend the National Football League championship, featuring the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers.

But when he got to Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Thursday, U.S. customs agents learned of a marijuana possession conviction in Vancouver in 1981 and told him he was not allowed to enter the country.

Though Wilkinson’s border ordeal is noteworthy, it’s one that affects a significant number of foreigners who want to visit the United States. “There’s hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have these criminal records for small amounts of cannabis and that results in a lifetime ban for accessing the U.S,” according to Dana Larsen, a Canadian group advocating for marijuana decriminalization. Not only are people like Wilkinson denied once-in-a-lifetime opportunities like going to the Super Bowl because they smoked pot as a kid, but the United States is also denied the economic benefit of their tourist dollars.

Following the episode, the fantasy football contest’s organizers offered Wilkinson a consolation prize: entrance to a private Super Bowl watch party in Vancouver.