September 16, 2019

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'Winnipeg, Alberta' shirt met with good humour

Top worn by Raiders punter in demand

OAKLAND RAIDERS</p><p>Oakland punter A.J. Cole III arrives at Richardson International Airport on Wednesday, wearing a T-shirt that mistakenly locates Winnipeg in Alberta.</p>

OAKLAND RAIDERS

Oakland punter A.J. Cole III arrives at Richardson International Airport on Wednesday, wearing a T-shirt that mistakenly locates Winnipeg in Alberta.

Shirt happens.

That’s what Jerry Kozak and Ricky Winowiecki, the 33-year-old owners of Michigan’s Ann Arbor T-Shirt Company, learned this week.

One of the company’s shirts — a grey T with a city skyline that read “Winnipeg, Alberta” — had a brief moment of national exposure when the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers squared off at IG Field for an NFL exhibition tilt.

Raiders rookie A.J. Cole III flashed the peace sign while wearing Kozak and Winowiecki’s shirt design, and the official team account tweeted to its 1.6 million Twitter followers that the team’s players were ready for Canada.

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Shirt happens.

That’s what Jerry Kozak and Ricky Winowiecki, the 33-year-old owners of Michigan’s Ann Arbor T-Shirt Company, learned this week.

One of the company’s shirts — a grey T with a city skyline that read "Winnipeg, Alberta" — had a brief moment of national exposure when the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers squared off at IG Field for an NFL exhibition tilt.

Raiders rookie A.J. Cole III flashed the peace sign while wearing Kozak and Winowiecki’s shirt design, and the official team account tweeted to its 1.6 million Twitter followers that the team’s players were ready for Canada.

Tweeters roasted Cole, and Winnipeggers chuckled, but Kozak — whose maternal grandparents were Canadian — got red in the face.

"I deleted it out of embarrassment," Kozak said. "In my defence, on our original listing, I had ‘Winnipeg, Manitoba’ written."

"Admittedly, I don’t know what the Winnipeg skyline looks like, and we didn’t check the little byline," he said, adding that the shirt — and others like it for different cities — had been up for years. "I guess it was bad quality control."

But then, in true Winnipeg fashion, the response wasn’t anger — instead, people started ordering the erroneous shirts. "We’ve gotten a few dozen or so orders so far," said Kozak, who hadn’t checked the sales stats yet this weekend.

"One buyer said, ‘Don’t fix it! I want Alberta!’" Kozak added. "I got nothing but tongue-in-cheek, good-humoured messages."

So, in response to the new demand, Kozak and Winowiecki reposted the shirt, along with a little explanation of the story behind the mistake, on the company’s Amazon account.

"It was definitely not meant to make fun of Winnipeg," Kozak clarified. "We’re in the Midwest, and everyone calls us flyover country, so we get why people found it funny. That’s our sense of humour here, and I felt some kinship. It’s been funny, and I’ve kind of enjoyed it."

For what it’s worth, Kozak loves Canada: he just got back from a week of vacation in Newfoundland.

"I haven’t gotten to the Prairies yet, but I’d definitely like to," he said.

There’s little doubt which shirt he’d wear for the plane ride.

ben.waldman@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @benjwaldman

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