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The infamous “Fiji Water Girl” isn’t happy with the company that made her internet famous.
Kelly Steinbach, who photobombed the Hollywood elite at the Golden Globes, is suing Fiji Water for using her likeness without her permission.
After her Golden Globes appearance, which was arranged by Matrix Staffing, Fiji Water launched a marketing campaign that used cardboard cutouts of its famous new face, Steinbach.
The model claims the company asked her “to sign away her rights in the moniker ‘Fiji Water Girl'” and authorize the use of her photo and likeness in the campaign — and says she didn’t agree to it.
Steinbach says she was “pressured” into recording a fake signing intended to show her signing on as a Fiji Water Ambassador.
“The fake document Steinbach fake-signed in the potential future promotional video was not an agreement,” writes attorney Kimberly Buffington in the complaint. “The fake document was not signed by Fiji Water and was later destroyed by Steinbach.”
A Fiji Water spokesperson responded to the lawsuit with a statement, saying, “This lawsuit is frivolous and entirely without merit. After the Golden Globes social media moment, we negotiated a generous agreement with Ms. Cuthbert that she blatantly violated. We are confident that we will prevail in Court. Throughout our history, we have had a sterling reputation working with talent.”
Steinbach estimates the “Fiji Water Girl” has generated at least $12 million in exposure for the brand. Meanwhile, she says the unauthorized use has damaged “her peace, happiness, feelings, goodwill, professional standing and future publicity value.” She’s seeking punitive and compensatory damages, plus disgorgement of Fiji Water’s profits.
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