Remember 'Fiji Water Girl'? Now She's Suing Fiji Water

Model Kelly Steinbach says company used her likeness without permission after viral moment
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2019 9:22 AM CST
Fiji Water Helped Make Her Famous. Now She's Suing
Kelleth Cuthbert greets football fans at State Farm Arena on Monday in Atlanta.   (AP Photo/Steve Luciano)

She made a literal splash at the Golden Globes as the "Fiji Water Girl," but now Kelleth Cuthbert's relationship with the company appears to be all wet. Cuthbert (real name: Kelly Steinbach) showed up on the red carpet at the awards presentation last month, standing in the background with a tray of Fiji Water bottles as celebrities mugged for the camera. Thanks to her modeling background, however, Steinbach ended up becoming an internet sensation herself by having "good face" and simply "looking at the camera at the right time," she tells People. Which was great publicity for Fiji Water—except now Steinbach is suing the beverage firm and its parent, The Wonderful Company, saying that the day after the Golden Globes, the company created cardboard cutouts of her without her OK in an unapproved marketing campaign.

The Blast has the legal docs, in which Steinbach notes Fiji Water didn't try to negotiate a deal with her on the cutouts until after it had already started placing them around town. In her complaint, Steinbach says Fiji tried to use "gifts to entice" her to agree to the cutouts, as well as "pressured Steinbach into video recording a fake signing of a fake document to simulate Steinbach signing on as a Fiji Water Ambassador" (her legal team says it wasn't a valid contract). Steinbach says in her suit, which seeks punitive and compensatory damages, that the misuse of her likeness has marred her "peace, happiness, feelings, goodwill, professional standing, and future publicity value," per Mashable. Fiji Water calls the lawsuit "frivolous and entirely without merit" in a statement to People, noting that "we negotiated a generous agreement with Ms. Steinbach that she blatantly violated." (More Fiji Water stories.)

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