The Fiji Water model who stole the show at the Golden Globes is suing the company for cashing in on her image

Kelly Steinbach poses in the background of a photo showing Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle on the red carpet at the Golden Globes in Los Angeles on January 6. A string of similar photos made her, briefly, a viral sensation.

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Kelly Steinbach poses in the background of a photo showing Tony Shalhoub and Marin Hinkle on the red carpet at the Golden Globes in Los Angeles on January 6. A string of similar photos made her, briefly, a viral sensation.
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Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for FIJI Water

  • The model who went viral as the “Fiji Water Girl” for holding bottles of Fiji Water in the background of celebrity red-carpet shots last month is suing the company for using her image in an ad campaign.
  • Kelly Steinbach, also known by modeling name, Kelleth Cuthbert, said the company made cardboard cutouts of her at the Golden Globes without permission.
  • Fiji Water called the lawsuit “frivolous.”

Kelly Steinbach, the model who went viral as the “Fiji Water Girl” after she was hired to hold bottles of Fiji Water on the Golden Globes red carpet last month, is suing the company, saying it misused her picture to sell more water, E! News reported.

Steinbach sued Fiji Water for using a cardboard-cutout image of her in an ad campaign, which she said was done without her permission, according to E! News.

E! News obtained court documents filed by Steinbach, who also goes by her modeling name, Kelleth Cuthbert.

Fiji Water contends that it already paid Steinbach enough and said in a statement that the suit is without merit.

You can see the cardboard cutout in the background of this paparazzi photo People Magazine published of singer John Legend in Beverly Hills, California, earlier this month.

Steinbach, 31, became an internet sensation after appearing in the background of numerous celebrity red-carpet shots at the Golden Globes in early January. She became known as the “Fiji Water Girl.”

It came about when a Getty Images photographer who was originally commissioned to take photos of celebrities holding or drinking Fiji Water “came up with the idea to have a Fiji brand ambassador creep into some shots” because nobody was drinking the water.

Read more: ‘Fiji Water Girl’ went viral at the Golden Globes – and it’s part of a brilliant marketing strategy more than a decade in the making

Steinbach (aka Kelleth Cuthbert), seen here behind Sabrina Dhowre, Isan Elba, and Idris Elba at the Golden Globes. Steinbach is now suing the company.

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Steinbach (aka Kelleth Cuthbert), seen here behind Sabrina Dhowre, Isan Elba, and Idris Elba at the Golden Globes. Steinbach is now suing the company.
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Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for FIJI Water

In her lawsuit, Steinbach said she is entitled to some of the money Fiji Water made from her image, E! News said.

According to TMZ, she said Fiji Water made “upwards of $12 million in brand exposure” after Steinbach’s Golden Globes appearance. It’s not clear how she calculated the figure.

Fiji Water has slammed Steinbach’s lawsuit as “frivolous” and said it “negotiated a generous agreement” with her after her Golden Globes fame.

Steinbach in the background of a photo of Holly Taylor at the Golden Globes.

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Steinbach in the background of a photo of Holly Taylor at the Golden Globes.
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Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for FIJI Water

Referring to Steinbach by her modeling name, a spokesman for Fiji Water told INSIDER in a statement: “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,” the company added. “Throughout our history, we have had a sterling reputation working with talent.”

Read more: Jamie Lee Curtis slammed the Fiji Water Girl and the brand’s ‘blatant promotion’ at the Golden Globes