Who's behind the Great American Idol Upset of 2009—not AT&T. If you believe the phone company, that is.
Said staffers reportedly provided phones with free text-messaging services at Arkansas parties held in Allen's honor during last week's finale.
But in a statement today, AT&T, one of Idol's largest sponsors tries to refute the conspiracy theory.
A few employees were invited to attend two local watch parties and, 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," said AT&T. "That said, it's quite a leap to suggest that a few individuals could have impacted the final results."
Even if they provided a demo on how to power text—which allows fans to send 10 votes at once and which is specifically a no-no per the little disclaimer AI flashes (in tiny, nearly illegible letters) at the end of every show...
Considering only AT&T subscribers are allowed to text in their votes and standard rates still apply, that's some sketchy stuff.
So far, no Lambert parties have reported the presence of cheater phones, and "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," said Fox in a statement.
"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," adds Fox.
Still, it raises the question that maybe America doesn't hate gays as much as everyone screamed on their Twitters and Facebook status updates after that fateful night. And that maybe instead two other American cornerstones—giant shady corporations and corrupt voting systems—were to blame.
For its part, AT&T says no one has to worry about any ballot-tampering for the next round. "Going forward, we will make sure our employees understand our sponsorship celebrates the competition, not individual contestants."
(Originally published May 27, 2009, at 8:30 a.m. PT)