CHANNEL Nine has been forced to deny that the Today show's cash giveaway segment is a "scam".
Yesterday a man from NSW's central coast won $130,000 when he correctly answered a phone call from the show within three rings and answered with the five magic words, "I wake up with Today".
More than 30 seconds after answering the phone call live on Channel Nine, co-host Lisa Wilkinson told Josh Huxley of Halekulani that a camera crew was waiting outside his house and within a few moments, a shocked Mr Huxley was shown on camera as the crew burst into his living room.
It's the fact a camera crew was at the winner's house that led some viewers to believe the so-called "random" competition was a little dodgy.
Today viewer Coralie Allan yesterday launched a change.org petition demanding that "Channel 9 should refund all monies to entrants for the I wake up with Today scam".
In the petition, Ms Allan argues: "A television crew filmed him answering the phone 'live' in order to win a major jackpot. This call is supposed to be random. A television crew in presence, in his house belies this claim."
Ms Allan also took issue with the fact the Today hosts were still encouraging people to enter the competition on air up until 20 minutes before the giveaway segment, even though a winner had clearly already been chosen because there was a camera crew waiting out the front of his house.
"The hosts were encouraging people to ring in and enter at a cost of $0.55 cents per call or sms, knowing that the competition for that draw had closed," the petition says.
Nine addressed the controversy on Facebook where they posted the clip of Mr Huxley winning and explained:
"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. 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."
They also released a statement to news.com.au saying:
"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."
According to the terms and conditions for the giveaway, Today show's Block of Cash segment runs until May 18.
During that time, viewers can enter by calling 1902 555 901 (or via SMS on 199 55 901) and leave their full name, address and a telephone number they will be able to be contacted on.
At 5pm AEST each day, the promoter (Nine) will draw entries at random for the hosts to call the next morning.
If the randomly chosen viewer answers the call within three full rings and says, "I wake up with Today (or any alternative phrase as deemed suitable by the Promoter in its absolute discretion)" they win the cash.
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