Uniqlo Pokémon T-shirt grand prize-winner disqualified for violating contest rules

Two designers used rule-breaking designs, which were super effective, until they got caught.

This week, Uniqlo announced the results of its annual UT Grand Prix T-shirt design contest, and it’s safe to say people have been very excited. This year’s theme was Pokémon, and Uniqlo received more than 18,000 entries from around the globe, the biggest response ever for the contest.

After the judges got done with the monumental challenge of paring that number down to the 24 that Uniqlo will actually produce and sell, they next had to choose an overall winner, and the honor went to Chinese designer Li Wen Pei, with a totem pole-like rendering of a trio of lowly Magikarp and their much more prized evolved form, Gyarados.

However, as we pointed out in our initial look at the results, Li had previously used the design on unlicensed smartphone cases and T-shirts sold in China, making his entry a violation of the contest rules, which stipulate that all designs must be new, and not previously published. Uniqlo has since stripped Li of his prize and dropped his Magikarp/Gyarados T-shirt from the line, issuing a statement saying:

“On May 20, we announced the winners of the Pokémon-themed UT Grand Prix 2019. We have since confirmed that the grand prize-winning design, as well as one other winner, were in violation of the contest rules, The designers’ awards and prizes have been retracted and their shirts will not be sold. No grand prize will be awarded for the contest.

We apologize to the fans of the designers, expectant retailers and customers, and anyone else affected by this. We will take thorough measures to ensure this situation does not occur in future contests.”

As mentioned in Uniqlo’s statement, Li wasn’t the only winner whose design has been booted from the collection. The U.K.’s AJ Hateley submitted a shadowy Mewtwo design that Uniqlo was so impressed with they were going to produce it in two different colors, until it came to light that he too had already been selling the design as a T-shirt, starting in 2016.

It’s not clear whether Li and Hateley purposely set out to break the rules of the competition, or whether

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