The Biggest Scandals in American Idol History


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Every 20-season reality show will have had its fair share of scandals in its history, and ABC’s “American Idol” is no different.

“American Idol” is slated to return for season 20 in early 2022. The show is currently hosting judicial hearings for the monumental season.

Read on to learn more about the scandals in “American Idol” history.

Season 1: Allegations of Unfair Voting

During the first season of “American Idol,” when the show was run by Fox and FremantleMedia, the show had a telephone voting system. According to USA Today, about 100 people used automatic numbering software and reportedly placed nearly 10,000 votes per night for the candidates.

Fox and Fremantle media claimed that the votes were a “statistically insignificant” proportion of the votes for each episode and that the system was fair, according to Digital Spy.

After, according to the reality TV magazine, the show’s executive producer said technology was in place to prevent autodialing from happening again.

Kelly Clarkson was the winner of the first season of “American Idol”.

Season 2: fans are unhappy with the finalist and the winner

Ruben Studdard was crowned winner of the second season of “American Idol”, but the star only won the votes of around 130,000 votes, according to Reality TV World. The number was initially estimated to be around 1,300 or 13,000 votes, which fans thought was too close.

The outlet reported that it was possible that the phone service was overloaded, which meant that up to 230 million calls were dropped at the time of the call vote.

In an interview years later, the then showrunner admitted that Clay Aiken, the finalist, had led in each of the votes until the final.

Season Eight: “Textgate”

In another vote-based scandal, one of the main sponsors of “American Idol”, AT&T, admitted to providing free phones to people who wanted to vote for Kris Allen, according to Rolling Stone.

The report, which was obtained by the outlet, claims that performances for AT&T taught viewers how to broadcast “powerful texts,” which allowed them to send 10 messages at a time.

“In Arkansas, we were invited to attend local watch evenings organized by the community. A few local employees brought a small number of demo phones with them and provided tutorials via text message to those who were interested, ”a statement provided at the point of sale said.

Fox told Rolling Stone that they were “absolutely certain that the results of this competition are fair, accurate and verified. Kris Allen is, without a doubt, “the American idol”.

They added: “We have put in place an independent third party monitoring procedure to ensure the integrity of the voting process. In no case did individuals unduly influence the outcome of the competition.

Phillip Phillips’ American Idol Court Case

Phillip Phillips was crowned the winner of “American Idol” Season 11. After his stint in the series, however, he challenged the contracts he received, which he described as “oppressive”. In 2015, according to the Hollywood Reporter, Phillips claimed he had been “manipulated” into taking jobs that would help the show and not his own career.

The Hollywood Reporter report states that 19 Entertainment, which is affiliated with the series, filed for bankruptcy following Fox’s cancellation of “American Idol” and that the company sued Phillips for $ 6 million.

The cases were settled without providing details to the public.

Wyatt Pike’s exit and alleged fight with Luke Bryan, Luke Bryan’s COVID absence

Season 19, which was the first season to return after the All-Distance season, saw its own string of scandals.

The season saw two contestants leave unexpectedly. The first was Wyatt Pike, who left the show “for personal reasons,” as Ryan Seacrest said on air at the time. There were allegations later that Pike had a fight with Luke Bryan backstage, which was linked to Bryan’s absence from the following episode.

Bryan’s wife Caroline Boyer has refuted the rumors, claiming Bryan and Pike didn’t fight and Bryan had coronavirus, which is why he had to self-quarantine.

According to E online, Caroline Bryan took to TikTok to tell fans that no fights had taken place.

“Believe me, he has Covid,” Bryan wrote on TikTok. “I wish there was a fight. I’m sick of taking care of the kids on my own and disinfecting them. I pee Lysol!”

“I had to quit the @AmericanIdol contest for personal reasons, but I’m so grateful that I can play music for the rest of my life” Pike wrote on Instagram. “Competitors – miss you all, good luck! Thanks everyone for your support… stick around for more musical stuff soon!

The return of Arthur Gunn and the jump from the season 19 finale

Later in the season, “American Idol” introduced the “comeback” touch, which allowed a contestant from a previous season to return to the series. Arthur Gunn, the Season 18 runner-up, ended up winning the comeback spot only to be rejected two votes later.

Then Gunn was invited to perform alongside Sheryl Crow in the finale and skipped the performance. Graham DeFranco, one of the top 24 contenders who was in the final to cheer on his friends, ended up stepping in instead to perform just two minutes before taking the stage.

Caleb Kennedy’s unexpected exit

Caleb Kennedy, one of the top five contestants for “American Idol” Season 19 left the series after a KKK-themed video he was in when he was 12 surfaced, according to TMZ.

“Hey all of you, it’s going to be a bit of a surprise, but I won’t be on ‘American Idol’ anymore,” he wrote. “There was a video that surfaced on the internet and it showed actions that should not be taken in this way. “

He added: “I was younger and wasn’t thinking about stocks, but that’s no excuse. I want to say sorry to all my fans and everyone I have let down. I’m going to take some time on social media to improve myself, but in saying this I know it has hurt and disappointed a lot of people and made me lose their respect.

Fans were unhappy with Kennedy’s decision to quit the show and some have vowed to boycott the rest of the season.

READ NEXT: “American Idol” finalist Alejandro Aranda: where is he now?

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