Dally M Medal winner Jack Wighton claims none of the contenders knew the result before it was announced even though it was spoiled for anyone with an internet connection hours before.
Monday night's Dally M Awards were bizarre for a number of reasons, but the strangest was due to a media outlet accidentally publishing the winner online before it was announced.
A story appeared on The Daily Telegraph website as the awards ceremony was starting, forcing Fox Sports production staff to confiscate contenders' phones to guard the secret.
It spoiled what was a shock result, with Wighton claiming the medal ahead of Penrith favourite Nathan Cleary and Parramatta star Clint Gutherson.
"Halfway through they took our phones so we weren't sure why," Wighton said. "We had no idea."
Wighton appeared genuinely shocked despite his stellar season for the Raiders in which he took on the bulk of the attack with star hooker Josh Hodgson sidelined with injury.
He was rested for the final round of the season, but neither Cleary or Gutherson polled votes either.
"Even towards the end I was writing myself off, missing that last game. It was a massive shock to receive," Wighton said. "I was going to give Ricky a phone call for that. I can't believe it happened to be fair."
It was the first ever virtual event, with players and presenters filming in separate studios but appearing as though they were in the same room via special broadcast effects.
Under normal circumstances there would be hundreds of guests, players and coaches at a lavish event somewhere in Sydney, but instead just Wighton, Cleary, Gutherson, James Tedesco and Luke Keary watched from a couch in a studio.
"Last year was my first (event) and it was a lot different. A bit weird at first but it turned out alright," Wighton said. "I don't really know what to say. I've never been in this situation, I'm blown away."