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Reality show winner sues over crummy prize

Food Network’s “Giving You the Business” falls short of its name, plaintiff says

The winner of the first season of the Food Network’s reality show “Giving You the Business” has a major beef with the network, and he’s taking it to court.

The show, which premiered on the network in April, secretly video records food service employees on the job while putting them through a series of challenges. Whoever performs the best wins his own franchise of the restaurant in which he currently works.

The first season’s winner was Kris Herrera, who was a manager at 16 Handles, a frozen yogurt franchise in New York. As the winner, Herrera said the Food Network and producers promised him his own 16 Handles location. But instead all he has received is a single share of nontransferable, nonvoting common stock in 16 Handles.

Hererra filed suit on July 16 against the Food Network and its parent, Scripps Networks. Other defendants Herrera names in the suit include 16 Handles founder and parent companies Yogurt City and Yo Fresh and Food Network producer Cineflex.

Hererra claims that through the taping of the show, he was tricked and repeatedly lied to about what he would win. He is suing for breach of contract, fraud and violation of his right to privacy and publicity.

According to the complaint, Herrera “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."

Hererra also claims producers forced him to sign away most of his legal rights with the promise of owning his own franchise. He also names his daughters as plaintiffs, saying that producers unlawfully used their images and voices on the show.

“I feel like it’s a total fraud. They lied to me and they are lying to the American public,” Herrera said in a statement. “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.”

Read more recent InsideCounsel stories about reality shows:

“Biggest Loser” star sued for alleged weight gain

Davis Wright Tremaine silences “Kitchen Nightmares” press conference

Paula Deen says harassment claims are false


Cathleen Flahardy

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