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Gary Lineker admitted he “f***ed” up by declaring Ben Stokes as the BBC Sports Personality of the Year winner before voting had even opened.
England cricket hero Stokes was eventually crowned as the winner at the ceremony in Aberdeen on Sunday evening, but Lineker had accidentally given it to him over an hour earlier.
When introducing three of the stars who helped England win the Cricket World Cup – captain Eoin Morgan, batsman Jason Roy and all-rounder Stokes – Lineker blurted out that Stokes was the “main award winner” to the surprise of viewers.
Manchester City footballer Raheem Sterling and Wales rugby legend Alun Wyn Jones were also on the shortlist for the main award, but they had already been introduced to the crowd as “contenders” for the prize.
Mirror columnist Stokes didn’t react to Lineker anointing him the winner, and the Match of the Day host soon apologised for his live gaffe.
Some viewers claimed that Lineker’s slip of the tongue was proof that Stokes – the hero of the World Cup win and the man who produced a stunning Ashes innings at Headingley in a remarkable summer – had already won, but the presenter took to Twitter to insist that wasn’t the case.
Responding to a claim that he had given the winner away, he tweeted: “I wish I was that smart. I just f**ked up. The voting hadn’t even opened at that stage. Apologies.”
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