LOS ANGELES — A few overeager AT&T employees brought demo phones to American Idol viewing parties in Arkansas and helped fans text their votes, but their actions did not affect the outcome between native son Kris Allen and Adam Lambert, the company said Wednesday.
Allen, 23, of Conway, Ark., won by an undisclosed margin over Lambert, 27, of San Diego, a powerful singer who’d been cast by the show’s judges as the front-runner. Host Ryan Seacrest said nearly 100 million votes were sent by phone or text message after last Tuesday’s final performance, but did not mention how those votes were divided.
While anyone in the United States could phone in votes, only AT&T customers were allowed to text.
About 20 phones were brought to two separate parties in Arkansas, and two of those phones were capable of sending multiple votes by so-called “power texting,” a person familiar with the gatherings said. A second person, with knowledge of the voting results, said Allen won by a large enough margin that a handful of voters could not have swayed the outcome.
Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment on the voting process or the Arkansas parties.
Idol prohibits “power voting” by text or phone and has internal safeguards against the practice.
In a joint statement, Fox and producer FremantleMedia said the results were “fair, accurate and verified” by an independent, third-party monitor to protect the integrity of the voting process. “In no way did any individuals unfairly influence the outcome of the competition.”
“Kris Allen is, without a doubt, the American Idol,” Fox and FremantleMedia said.
According to AT&T, “a few local AT&T employees” were invited to attend local viewing parties in Arkansas for the American Idol finale, parties the company said were similar to other, “countless” ones held in “homes, bars and other public places” nationwide.
“Caught up in the enthusiasm of rooting for their hometown contestant, they brought a small number of demo phones with them and provided texting tutorials to those who were interested,” AT&T said in its statement.
Dallas-based AT&T, the country’s largest telecommunications company, is one of the show’s main sponsors, though it did not sponsor the parties in question.