Korilla, disqualified for cheating, insists “we would never cheat”

New York City-based food truck Korilla was eliminated from The Great Food Truck Race‘s second season last night, disqualified after being accused of cheating in a very strange conclusion to the episode. And Food Network needs to let the disqualified and accused contestants tell their side of the story.

As Tyler Florence explained during “the weirdest elimination yet,” he said that one team put “$2,700 of your own money in the till” and, in a voice-over, explained that money has to be “matched by a legitimate receipt.” So, “slipping your own money in the cash box is a clear violation of the rules.” He then said, “Korilla, you guys tried to cheat and you got caught.”

The truly weird part, though, was that Korilla didn’t actually respond in any meaningful way. One of the guys said, “Are you serious right now?” right before Tyler accused them, and before they drove away, another said, according to a translated subtitle, “He just made us look really bad.”

Adding that much money to the cash box seems like a pretty ridiculous way to cheat because it’d be so obvious. Tyler did not directly suggest they faked receipts; in fact, his voice-over (which seemed added in post-production) emphasized that proceeds had to match “legitimate” receipts, though that could have been an oblique way of accusing them of faking receipts.

However, it’s clear that Korilla objects to the editing, the accusation, and/or their elimination. On Twitter, they wrote, “WE WOULD NEVER CHEAT ON YOU NEW YORK,” a clever response but one that offered no details or explanation. That’s because, as a subsequent tweet explained, their “1st Amendment Rights went on a hiatus and won’t be back till Spring.” They hashtaged that #itaintoveryet,” suggesting that, next year, they’ll tell the full story.

That’s an obvious reference to their contracts, although the first amendment doesn’t apply when you sign your life away on a reality TV show, of course. Those contracts we’ve seen (read Big Brother’s contract or Survivor’s contract) include clauses that prevent contestants from talking to the media without permission at the very least.

What’s most interesting to me is the disproprtionate’s response: Korilla’s inability to talk and Food Network’s strong, unequivocal statement that they cheated (which was repeated in question posted on the show’s Facebook page said, “Why do you think Korilla attempted such an obvious violation of the rules?”–a question that prompted some predictably awful and racist comments).

If Food Network and the producers have clear evidence, they should produce it, but at the very least they should let Korilla talk and defend themselves. Forcing the truck to remain silent only causes conspiracy theories to grow and the show to lose credibility–though it also gets people talking and watching.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.