Oops, they did it.
In the wake of a voting flap that had fans of “American Idol” runner-up Adam Lambert fans crying four, AT&T confirmed yesterday that employees handed out phones at two parties in Arkansas – winner Kris Allen’s home state – and then showed guests how to text votes, including how to “power-text” multiple votes, a violation of “American Idol”s voting rules.
In a statement, the company admitted its workers were “caught up in the enthusiasm of rooting for their hometown contestant.” It added: “Going forward, we will make sure our employees understand our sponsorship celebrates the competition, not individual contestants.”
“Idol”s producers maintain the votes didn’t spoil the integrity of the results.
“Fox and the producers of ‘American Idol’ are absolutely certain that the results of this competition are fair, accurate and verified,” the network and producers said in a joint statement. “Kris Allen is, without a doubt, the American Idol. We have an independent third-party monitoring procedure in place to ensure the integrity of the voting process. In no way did any individuals unfairly influence the outcome of the competition.”
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More than 100 million votes were cast in the finale.
According to an LA Times story, “Even if the AT&T workers passed out 1,000 phones — the company said it was “a small number” of devices, without offering specifics — and coached each user to text 100 votes, that would add up to only 100,000 votes, or less than one-tenth of 1% of the votes cast.”
Reports citing show insiders have said that Allen won by a margin that couldn’t have been affected by the possible number of power-texted votes.
But the Times’ recalled the 2003 finale when “Ruben Studdard beat Clay Aiken by a 130,000-vote margin, out of 24 million cast — a margin of error of less than 1%.”