The regular prize segment requires people to register their names, watch the show, and wait for the phone to ring … before answering and saying “I wake up with Today.”

There was $30,000 up for grabs this morning — but either all the winners were taking bathroom breaks … or no one was watching.

It was clear the presenters quickly started to regret announcing they’d call until someone picked up and won the prize, after the phone went unanswered an unbelievable 16 times.

They managed to keep the smiles plastered on their faces throughout the cringe-worthy segment, even jokingly offering to give the cash away to the crowd assembled behind them at their live show from Australia Zoo in Queensland.

As it became apparent the situation was spiralling into a live TV disaster, Wilkinson finally stepped in and threw to an ad break.

It’s not the first time one of the breakfast TV cash giveaways has gone spectacularly wrong.

Hosts of Channel Seven’s Sunrise were caught off guard on two separate occasions last year when Cash Cow winners answered their phone with Nine’s competition catchphrase “I wake up with Today.”

“I wake up with Today,” Lynette from Bendigo said when she answered in June.

“Well get stuffed … Lynette it’s Sunrise here,” host David Koch said as the rest of the breakfast team made up of Samantha Armytage, Natalie Barr and Mark Berretta cringed with laughter.

A few months later, Koch cracked it again when the same thing happened.

“I wake up with Today, hello?” called John said.

“John, why the frick would you wake up with Today?”

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