Model Kelleth Cuthbert took the world by storm after appearing in the background of dozens of snapshots from the 2019 Golden Globes earlier this month carrying a tray of Fiji Water which, after going viral on social media, earned her the nickname “Fiji Water Girl.”
Kelleth earned herself considerable attention from the gig, which, as previously reported by the Inquisitr, also helped her land an appearance on the hit soap opera, The Bold and the Beautiful. Now, however, the expert photobomber is turning the tables on the brand, as The Blast reported that she has sued the company that has brought her worldwide recognition.
Kelleth — whose real name is Kelly Steinbach — is suing both the Fiji Water Company and its parent company, The Wonderful Company, alleging that they are using an unauthorized image of her from the Golden Globes in a new marketing campaign that she says includes cardboard cutouts of her in an attempt to capitalize on her viral fame.
Per documents obtained by the news outlet, the advertisements were created by Fiji Water just one day after the awards ceremony on January 7. The company attempted to negotiate a deal with the model’s agent on January 8, with the lawsuit even claiming she was offered “gifts to entice” her to sign away her rights.
EXCLUSIVE: 'Fiji Water Girl' sues Fiji Water after going viral at Golden Globes.https://t.co/cryPtlIFOr— The Blast (@TheBlastNews) January 31, 2019
And though she claims she never ended up signing anything, the cutouts had already began popping up around Bristol Farms stores in West Hollywood. The Blast even noted that one showed up in the background of a paparazzi photograph of John Legend as he exited the grocery store.
Kelleth’s lawsuit also claims Fiji “pressured Steinbach into video recording a fake signing of a fake document to simulate Steinbach signing on as a Fiji Water Ambassador.” The model’s legal team claims the documents were not a real agreement and were eventually destroyed by Cuthbert, but Fiji continued to use her image despite allegedly being aware that no agreement existed.
Kelleth, who claims her viral moment generated more than $12 million in brand exposure, is requesting that Fiji stop using the cardboard cutouts immediately and pay her for monetary damages.
Fiji Water has since released a statement regarding the claims, which they are calling “frivolous and entirely without merit.”
“After the Golden Globes social media moment, we negotiated a generous agreement with Ms. Cuthbert that she blatantly violated,” the company said. “We are confident that we will prevail in court. Throughout our history, we have a sterling reputation working with talent.”