Today viewer’s $40k cash call ‘nightmare’
A TODAY Show viewer has spoken of her distress after she claims technical difficulties saw her miss out on the show's $40,000 cash giveaway.
To take part in the "Mega-Cash-a-Roo Giveaway," viewers must watch Nine's breakfast program when the daily code word is advertised, and then call or text in their personal details, along with the code.
The hosts then call one of the entries live on air - but the winner can only claim their prize if they answer within three rings and immediately say: "I wake up with Today."
After hearing her name read out on the show on Thursday and seeing the "No Caller ID" call come up on her phone, Mackay-based Jenny Baker, claims she did exactly that - but says her joy was short-lived.
"I could not believe it, I was sitting down with my mobile in my hand, and I (picked it up) and said, 'I wake up with Today!' and nobody answered. It was dead silent," she told news.com.au.
Panicked, and watching the hosts waiting for her response on TV, Ms Baker, 55, says she tried again.
"I said again, 'I wake up with Today!' and nobody was there at all, and then I heard them say, 'Jenny Baker' a couple of seconds later on TV, so I go, 'I wake up with Today, please, please, don't hang up on me!' And then the line went dead."
Other viewers tuned in at the time heard dead air after the line was picked up, and then one muffled indistinguishable word.
Ms Baker admitted she was "a mess" afterwards.
"I nearly collapsed, I was bawling my head off," she said.
"I was a mess all day. Forty-thousand dollars. I don't work, I get $120 a fortnight to look after my mum as a carer, my husband was made redundant two years ago … Forty grand to me is huge."
However, like all commercial competitions, Today is bound by strict guidelines governing the awarding of prizes.
As a Today spokesman told news.com.au, Nine is unable to declare a winner if the correct sentence isn't heard on air.
"We hope our viewers win each and every day and we know they are all deserving of the prize, but to ensure a fair competition we have to abide by the terms and conditions each time. Viewers have three dial rings to answer and must clearly say the words 'I wake up with Today.' The hosts hear what the control room hears - if there is a slightly ropy phone connection and we don't hear the words 'I wake up with Today', then we cannot award the money. The hosts heard A word sadly - that's it … Had they heard the SENTENCE we would have loved Jenny to win the money."
After failing to be awarded yesterday, the cash giveaway rose to $50,000 for Friday's segment.
It's been a dramatic week for the new-look Today show, which relaunched without Karl Stefanovic on Monday.
His replacement, Deb Knight, and co-hosts Georgie Gardner, Tony Jones, Tom Steinfort and Brooke Boney failed to make a splash on their first day - attracting just 197,000 viewers across five metropolitan capitals (Seven's rival program, Sunrise, drew 266,000).
However, things were already looking up by Tuesday, with the revamped Today show managing to crack 200,000 viewers in the five-city metro, and - despite still lagging behind Sunrise - actually came out on top in the Sydney market.