Channel Nine has defended the authenticity of its Today show $130,000 cash giveaway, after a viewer started an online petition accusing the promotion of being a “scam”.
A man from the NSW central coast on Wednesday won $130,000 when he correctly answered a phone call from the show within three rings and answered with the required words: “I wake up with Today”.
But less than a minute after answering the call live on the Today show, presenter Lisa Wilkinson told the man, Josh Huxley, that a camera crew was waiting outside his house.
And moments later, lucky winner Mr Huxley was surrounded by a TV camera crew in his own living room.
The seemingly incredible coincidence prompted Today viewer Coralie Allan to begin asking questions.
Ms Allan started a change.org petition demanding that “Channel 9 should refund all monies to entrants for the ‘I wake up with Today’ scam”.
“The competition was closed – yet Channel 9 was still making money from people calling in up until the actual segment,” said her Change.org petition addressed to the NSW Liquor, Gaming and Racing office.
“[Or] the winner was chosen in advance – so entrants were disadvantaged from the beginning and there (sic) entries were null and void, in spite of having paid for them, as evidenced by the ‘planted’ TV crew in attendance.”
“Twenty minutes before the supposed ‘random’ call, the hosts of the show were encouraging people to call in and enter as there was supposedly still time to be in the draw.”
But the Nine Network posted a defence of its competition to its Facebook page, with a clip of the Mr Huxley moment and an explanation of the contest parameters.
“In case you’re wondering, we had no idea whether our $130,000 cash call winner was going to pick up the phone today within three rings, and scoop the cash,” the network wrote.
“We had a cameraman waiting outside his home just in case, so we could share the magic with viewers if we got a winner — and it was a big IF.”
Nine later provided an additional statement.
“There have been some inaccurate reports regarding this morning’s Block of Cash giveaway on the Today show.
“To correct any misinformation and concerns, Nine reaffirms the competition is run in accordance with clearly stated terms and conditions to protect all entrants and ensure fairness in the operations.
“As a live television show, when it is possible to have a crew in the vicinity of the call recipient, and if they answer the call correctly, we are able to capture the reaction as soon as possible.
“Often, the public is unaware of the presence of a crew because the call is not answered in time.
“When there is a moment of joy to be shared, we endeavour to do so with our viewers.”
“Everyone who entered yesterday morning is in the draw and eligible to win until the close of the competition on 18 May. We always encourage our viewers to enter the Block of Cash giveaway, but never suggest that they would be in the draw for that particular morning.”
But viewers were sceptical with some ripping into Nine on Facebook.
“Disgusting! shame on you today show. you accepted my money, my entry and thousands of other peoples, only to find out you clearly already knew who you were going to call. deceitful as far as I’m concerned. so disappointed in this show now!,” wrote one.