"FoodNetwork.com experienced technical difficulties last night," Food Network publicistLisa Krueger said in a statement released to D Magazine on Friday.
"As our viewers have seen on The Next Food Network Star this season, many twists and turns have taken place during the show. We encourage all to tune in on Sunday at 10PM to see who will be the Next Food Network Star."
The pre-taped finale will air on Sunday, however the network's website began showing McCargo, a 36-year-old executive catering chef at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital from Camden, NJ, as The Next Food Network Star's fourth-season champ after an apparently premature content update was released late Thursday night.
After the update was released, McCargo's biographical webpage began including a link to a new "Aaron's Winning Moments" video while Gertler and Garza's webpages began offering links to "Exit Interview" videos.
In addition, McCargo's webpage also began displaying a link to another video titled "Onset at Big Daddy's House" -- an apparent reference to the six-episode Food Network show he received for winning The Next Food Network Star's fourth season. A pull-down menu on the website also began listing a new television show called Big Daddy's House.
Exactly how long the content was online remains unclear, however D Magazine was alerted to Food Network's website gaffe at 10:27PM CT and the information was subsequently removed by 12:51AM CT.
Assuming it's accurate, Food Network's error marks the second time a show-affiliated website has prematurely revealed the ending of a culinary reality competition.
Last year, Top Chef sponsor Food & Wine magazine inadvertently revealed Ilan Hall as the show's second-season winner by posting an interview with him on its website titled "Bravo's New Top Chef Tells All" -- two days before the finale aired on Bravo.
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