The winner has been declared, but American Idol fans may be in for some more debate.
The New York Times reports that the show’s voting results for the May 20 finale, which landed Kris Allen as the winner over Adam Lambert, may have been influenced by AT&T employees helping Allen fans with free texting services and instructions on how to power text.
While it remains unclear whether such power texts were counted (the Times points out that the show warns viewers that blocks of votes using technical enhancements may not be counted), AT&T representatives attended two parties in Arkansas — Allen’s home state — and supplied instructions on how to power text, which sends 10 or more text messages at a time, according to the Times. (AT&T is the only mobile phone network that can be used to vote via text message.)
An AT&T rep told the paper, “In Arkansas, we were invited to attend the local watch parties organized by the community. A few local employees brought a small number of demo phones with them and provided texting tutorials to those who were interested.”
In response to the Times report, FOX, along with FreemantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment, the producers of Idol, issued the following statement: “FOX and the producers of AMERICAN IDOL are absolutely certain that the results of this competition are fair, accurate and verified. 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.”
Though it doesn’t appear that AT&T provided such services to Lambert fans, the power texting technique was also encouraged in San Diego, his hometown. Fliers were distributed to fans there the weekend of his visit, instructing voters on how to power text. One flier instructs fans on how send “between 3K-5K votes in 2 hours — by power texting 10 votes at a time,” and another one encouraged fans to buy a phone and an unlimited texting plan to “send 3K votes easily.”
Meanwhile, a source tells PEOPLE, more than 5,000 fans were given fliers at a rally for Lambert at Mt. Carmel High School, where the Idol runner-up attended. — By Monica Rizzo
Tell us: Do you think power texting influenced the outcome of Idol?