Sarah Murdoch, supermodel host of Australia’s Next Top Model, has been left red faced and close to tears after realizing that she had announced the wrong winner of season six of the Fox Television reality show last night.
Sarah named 19-year-old Kelsey Martinovich from Sydney the winner who then gave a heartfelt acceptance speech in a live finale before the host realized she had announced the wrong name. Martinovich had completed her acceptance speech before Murdoch backtracked on stage to reveal the real winner from a public vote was 18-year-old Amanda Ware from Gold Coast.
Her hand over her face, Murdoch made an awkward apology. Murdoch said the wrong name was fed to her earpiece.
“I don’t know what to say right now. I’m feeling a bit sick about this,” Murdoch told a 2,000-strong audience.
But Martinovich was a good sport and gracious in her sudden defeat, saying: “It’s okay” over and over, hugging and repeatedly congratulating Ware and dismissing Murdoch’s apologies.
The disastrous event was dissected in real time on Twitter, and it became an international trending topic immediately.
Prominent blogger Mia Freedman sent a sympathetic tweet to Murdoch: “Oh @SarahAMurdoch you handled that with grace. I wouldn’t want to be the person who fed you the wrong name.”
Foxtel publicity director Jamie Campbell blamed the blunder on a miscommunication between series directors in a broadcasting truck control room and Murdoch on stage.
She said: “Sarah handled what was a difficult situation with utmost professionalism and grace. Amanda and Kelsey were neck and neck in the voting all night.”
Sarah is the daughter-in-law of media baron Rupert Murdoch. Foxtel is owned by Australian phone company Telstra, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and Consolidated Media Holdings.
Martinovich may have had a very short-lived reign as Australia’s Next Top Model, but Foxtel said she would receive a Ł12,000 cash prize and trip to New York as compensation for the blunder.
There are accusations that the bizarre mix-up is a publicity stunt to push up the ratings. And Australian newspapers are saying that this is the country’s most awkward TV moment.
Ware won an appearance in Harper’s Bazaar magazine, a modelling contract, Ł12,000, a trip to New York and a car.