Reality Show Contestant Sues Over Disappointing Prize, Accuses Show of ‘Lying to the American Public’

Jul 18, 2013  •  Post A Comment

A contestant who scored a win on a reality TV show filed a lawsuit after his prize from the show failed to live up to his expectations, The Hollywood Reporter’s Hollywood, Esq. reports.

The show is Food Network’s "Giving You the Business," which premiered April 25 and recently wrapped up its first season on the air. In the show, "competing food service employees are put to the test with unexpected challenges in their eateries. The competitors do not know they are being filmed by hidden cameras — and whoever performs best wins his or her own franchise of the episode’s featured restaurant," THR reports, adding: "That’s the way it’s supposed to go, at least."

The winner on the episode that aired May 23, Kris Herrera, who managed a New York location of the frozen yogurt franchise 16 Handles, filed the suit, saying he was promised his own 16 Handles location.

"Instead, he claims, all he received was a single, non-transferable, non-voting share of common stock in 16 Handles’ parent company," the story reports. "Now Herrera has sued the Food Network and parent Scripps Networks. In a complaint filed July 16 in a New York court, he also targets as defendants 16 Handles founder Solomon Choi and parent companies Yogurt City and Yo Fresh and Food Network producer Cineflex."

THR adds: "Herrera says he was first told in a ‘ruse and deception’ that he had been selected to participate in filming a ‘corporate video’ for the yogurt chain and instructed to submit photos of his family. Later, he says he was assigned a seven-hour shift in which he dealt with ‘situations of embarrassment and ridicule that placed him in a negative light.’

"Herrera then says that he, along with other store managers, were told to report to a TV studio where it was revealed that they had unknowingly been a participant in the show. They were told of the premise of the show and allegedly promised that one of them would win a franchise location."

But soon after completion of filming on the episode, according to Herrera, things began to turn sour as he was told by Food Network that he would only be awarded "part of a franchise," or a "stake in a franchise," according to the lawsuit.

"His inquiries about exactly what percentage he would receive went unanswered, he claims, and three days before the airing, he received the disappointing stock share," THR reports. "He has sued for breach of contract, fraud and violation of his right to privacy and publicity. The complaint states he ‘would have never allowed the episode that showed him in situations of embarrassment, ridicule, defamation and false light to air … if he was not going to be awarded his own franchise store and if he was only going to be awarded a single, non-transferable, share of stock.’"

The report adds: "According to the complaint, after he was told that he had won his own franchise store, Herrera was presented with a release form, which the plaintiff contends ‘was a condition to his being awarded his very own franchise store.’ The contract waives or transfers much of Herrera’s legal rights but the plaintiff is disputing its enforceability."

Herrera issued a statement in which he said: “I feel like it’s a total fraud. They lied to me and they are lying to the American public. Every week dozens of people come into the store and congratulate me on winning my own franchise store. They don’t know all I got was the shaft.”

Reps for Food Network declined to comment for the story.

3 Comments

  1. If this is true, someone’s got a lot of explaining to do.
    From “win your own franchise” to “you get a single share of stock”? Ouch.

  2. Can you say; “Bait and switch?”

  3. It looks like some bean counter at Food Network screwed up. I suspect that the network was planning to use the advertising and cable distribution proceeds to pay for a franchise but when the revenue fell short (probably way short) of expectation due to poor ratings, they had to come up with a “Plan B”, which was probably the creation of the same financial “genius” trying to save his own butt.

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