The showpiece finale of the popular Australian reality modelling show ended in a toe-curling blunder when the wrong winner was announced on live television.
ANTM‘s two finalists had already made their winner’s and loser’s speeches when presenter Sarah Murdoch, daughter-in-law of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, revealed the mix-up.
"Oh my God, I don’t know what to say right now. I’m feeling a bit sick about this," Murdoch said during Tuesday’s broadcast from Sydney’s Luna Park, later blaming her producer for giving her the wrong feed.
"This is what happens on live TV, folks. This is insane, insane, insane."
A bewildered Amanda Ware, 18, finally accepted the award and made a brief victory sashay down the catwalk, as 19-year-old Kelsey Martinovich took the bizarre defeat gracefully.
"It’s an honest mistake, it’s fine," she said, consoling the red-faced Murdoch.
DID YOU WATCH THE VIDEO?: Was it a stunt?: Comment below…
Director of publicity Jamie Campbell said late last night that Sarah Murdoch had wrongly assumed Kelsey was the winner based on earlier information she was handed on a card. Foxtel has come under fire today with claims the mistake was staged.
The story has made headlines throughout the world in the last 20 hours, with the Twitter #antm even becoming a globally trending topic.
Australian media rated the error as one of the most embarrassing moments on Australian TV.
"And the next top model is… no, wait a second," headlined the Daily Telegraph.
Judge Alex Perry has denied the incident was a publicity stunt to boost the show’s ratings.
"I would stake my life on it…There’s no way that she (Murdoch) would do that. I think you saw that the instant that she knew something was wrong, you could see it in her eyes, that wasn’t lying, that wasn’t acting," he told Sydney’s 2Day FM Radio.
However, top industry commentators are sceptical, with the editor of Harper’s Bazaar Edwina McCann accusing Foxtel of manipulating the ANTM result.
"The network did want Amanda to win…They kept the voting lines open for a long time I think in the hope that she would get over the line. I’m told that it came down to three votes,” she told the Nine Network.
Speaking on Nine’s Today show, Ms McCann said the "monumental screw-up” had held up the printing of the magazine, as the ANTM winner’s prize in an eight-page spread in Harper’s Bazaar – which will now have a double cover following the mix up.
Foxtel blamed the error on a "miscommunication" between backstage operators, and offered Martinovich a cash gift and a trip to New York as compensation.
Ms Murdoch has not spoken publicly today.
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