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Australia's Next Top Model -- winners, losers, and awkward moments

People often talk about how to be a good loser. You shake hands, you politely congratulate the winner, you don't throw the monopoly board.

Losing is what we do. Sometimes, of course, it takes real effort. Who would have thought, a year ago, that Harry Reid would be polling essentially even with Sharron Angle? Sometimes you have to shoot yourself in the foot, then cut that foot off to spite your other foot. Hey -- whatever it takes to lose those extra pounds before the wedding!

But how to be a good winner?

Winning is hard. Winning the lottery ruins your life. Winning a Nobel Peace prize angers your critics. Winning the MacArthur Genius Grant startles your cat.

Sure, history is written by the winners, but who reads history these days?

And how do you manage to do both?

Australian TV viewers got a good lesson in winning and losing on the finale of Australia's Next Top Model, when host Sarah Murdoch accidentally crowned the wrong model Next Top. The video is gruesomely awkward -- for everyone except Kelsey Martinovich, who won --then, within a few minutes, lost.

The answer to how to win and lose in a moment's notice is that you don't, ostentatiously, do either. You accept victory graciously. You swallow defeat the same way and spend the rest of your time consoling a frantic Sarah Murdoch.

Kelsey deserves all the praise she's been getting, but she had an easier part to play than Amanda Ware. Good winners go more easily unnoticed; bad losers and worse winners attract all the attention. Sometimes it's hard to tell. Some people say Al Gore was a bad loser, conceding and then retracting. But others argue he was just the world's least successful winner.

Still, it is easier to be a good loser than to be a good winner. Look at Appomattox. All Robert E. Lee had to do was waltz in there with his sword and dignity in hand. Ulysses S. Grant had to perform a complicated dance of awkwardly reminiscing about the Mexican War, refusing the sword, being polite, being elected President of the United States, and drinking and smoking himself to death.

In the end, both Kelsey and Amanda won. They're sharing a magazine cover, and both of their careers have been jump-started. But for a moment, it was a combustion of awkwardness, a reminder of how thin the line really is -- all beautiful people look alike to me, which is in some ways the point -- and how easily defeat can be snatched from the jaws of victory.

Was it real? Was it staged? Does it matter? This moment wasn't reality. It was reality television. As people often point out, the line between winners and losers on these shows is so thin. Sure, Justin Guarini has largely vanished in the maw of history, but who remembers Taylor Hicks? And I hear that Adam Lambert guy is doing quite well for himself. Kelsey no doubt will, too.

By Alexandra Petri  | October 1, 2010; 3:51 PM ET
Tags:  Alexandra Petri  
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Ms. Petri -

This is now the THIRD item you've been posted since being informed, more than 24 hours ago in the comments section of your recent O'Keefe/CNN Sex Boat story on this blog, that you blatantly misreported on the O'Keefe/ACORN "pimp" hoax.

As well, you have been notified directly via email and multiple times via Twitter, yet you have failed to issue a correction.

It would see as though you are simply going to leave the blatantly inaccurate reporting as is? Is this what you and Mr. Milbank consider to be responsible, professional journalism at an important MSM outlet?

I would appreciate if you would respond to any one of the comments, emails or tweets I've left u on this matter, with a response as to whether you are going to issue a correction, and if not, why not?

Your errors are detailed here:

Thank you.

Brad Friedman, The BRAD BLOG

Posted by: BradFriedman | October 1, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

I take exception to the comment that Grant "drank and smoked himself to death". That he died from throat cancer due to his excessive smoking is not in dispute, but to imply that he was an alcoholic and drank constantly is absolutely false. These accusations have been around since the 1850s and have been disproven again and again. They are due to journalists, historians, bloggers and writers of popular history who are too lazy to check the facts, to do the research, that perpetuate this falsehood. The comment is yet another example of the many glib and cheap shots that are made about this great man.

Posted by: souscolline | October 2, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Hi, I was wondering if you were going to correct your record on James O'Keefe dressing as a pimp? As a journalist, I'm not sure why you don't want to be as accurate as possible.

Posted by: jimmymac12 | October 2, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

After reading the comments above it is clear you have no regard for the facts. If you were a responsible journalist you would do a little research before spouting garbage.
If you had taken a second to Google Justin Guarini you would have learned that he is currently in rehearsal for "Women on the Verge" opening on Broadway next month.

Posted by: grits710 | October 2, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Hey Alex,

How about a heads up when Petri @ rough sketch thinks about sending out the next decent post? ...or maybe you could warn US when you start typing, so WE can run for the hills...


Posted by: RichNomore | October 4, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Maybe it's those 'People often talk(ing) about how...' that caused you to run off the road...sort of a Composing Under the Influence of Twitting accident...

Posted by: RichNomore | October 4, 2010 3:39 PM | Report abuse

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