Kelsey Martinovich had been crowned champion by public vote and was making an acceptance speech when presenter Sarah Murdoch interrupted her.
Shaking her head and listening to her earpiece, Murdoch said: “I’m feeling sick about this. I’m so sorry, this was a complete accident.” She then announced the real winner was 18-year-old Amanda Ware. “This is what happens when you have live TV, folks,” she said. “This is insane, insane, insane.”
Martinovich, who had been under the impression she was a winner for about a minute, appeared to take the news well, saying, “It’s OK, it’s an honest mistake,” as Murdoch asked: “How could this happen?” She attempted to explain the gaffe, saying: “The lead kept changing. It was literally down to a couple of votes. It kept going back and forwards… and we ended up with Amanda as a winner.”
The two contestants embraced, before Ware gave a shocked “Thanks” to her supporters and walked the catwalk for the final time. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Martinovich was awarded AUS$25,000 (£15,162) by way of apology. Ware won an eight-page spread in women’s magazine Harpers Bazaar, a contract with Priscilla’s modelling agency, an AUS$25,000 Levi’s campaign, an AUS$20,000 (£12,130) cash prize, a new car and a trip to New York.
The show, shown in Australia on Tuesday evening, was broadcast with a live studio audience on the Fox8 pay TV channel, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Sarah Murdoch, a fashion model and TV presenter, is married to Rupert’s son Lachlan.
She replaced Jodhi Meares as host of Australia’s Next Top Model last year, after Meares blundered her way through the show’s 2007 final, and pulled out of the 2008 broadcast with just 48 hours’ notice. Meares later told Grazia magazine she had never agreed to present a live show, adding: “I don’t aspire to handle crowds of that level.” The hugely popular Next Top Model shows, created by supermodel Tyra Banks in the US, pit aspiring models against each other. Each week, they compete for judges in a variety of photo shoots to stay in the competition, with the eventual winner receiving a cash prize and modelling contract.
There are several dozen spin-offs, including series in the UK, Brazil, China, Finland and Israel – BBC