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Remember the Endless Taco Bell Chihuahua Lawsuit? Kamala Harris’ Husband Won It.

Soon-to-be second gentleman Doug Emhoff put the final kibosh on a decade-long legal battle over the famous commercial mascot.

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November 9, 2020 2 min read

In Vice President-elect , the country is getting many firsts. She will be the first woman — and the first woman of color, born to a Jamaican father and Indian-American mother — to hold the office. And with her we’ll get our first “second gentleman,” in the form of her husband, entertainment lawyer Doug Emhoff. 

Harris was set up on a blind date with Emhoff in 2013, four years after he won a high-profile case that centered around the tiny dog best known for barking, “Yo quiero Taco Bell!” 

The case centered around whether Taco Bell broadcast the chihuahua campaign without compensating Joseph Shields and Thomas Rinks, who claimed to have created the now-famous “Psycho Chihuahua” character. In 1996, Shields and Rinks — on behalf of their small Michigan-based agency Wrench co. — were purportedly in talks with Taco Bell about developing a series of ads around the cartoon canine, but Taco Bell ultimately took the idea and ran it over to ad agency TBWA\Chiat\Day, who carried it over the finish line. Shields and Rinks sued, and won $42 million from the fast-food chain in 2003. 

Taco Bell, in turn, sued TBWA, which is where Emhoff came in. He represented TBWA, who successfully argued that the plaintiff should be solely responsible for footing the bill. 

Despite how pervasively the pup imprinted on our pop culture zeitgeist, the campaign actually didn’t help Taco Bell sell tacos, so they retired it in 2000. Still, the high-profile case gave Emhoff’s career quite the boost, and couldn’t have hurt as conversation fodder on his eventual first date with a certain California attorney general.

Related: Kamala Harris Makes History as First Female American Vice President

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