As of Tuesday morning the internet has gone berserk with the search term “Oprah Rigs Votes Against Zach Anner.” So what is this bizarre rumor all about?
As Oprah Winfrey prepares to close out her current show and start her own network, the iconic talk show host created an online competition encourages participants to submit a video detailing why they should have their own show on Oprah’s new network. According to the site, viewers and visitors can vote for who they think would make the best host in each category.
Zach Anner, a 25-year-old from Austin, Texas, is currently one of the top contenders for the wildcard category. Zach has Cerebral Palsy, which he says on his video he believes is “the sexiest of all the palsies.” Zach’s audition tape is hilarious and shows some real comedic talent and likeability to say the least. Part of his bio on the site says:
“Wheelchair-bound lady magnet Zach discusses his many talents and idea for a TV show designed to inspire people who never thought they could travel. Join Zach as he globe-trots to some of the most notoriously inaccessible locations and embraces the spontaneous nature of world travel!”
At press time Zach had 3,753,495 votes. Another contestant leading in the votes is Dr. Phyllis, a dynamic lady also competing in the wildcard category. Phyliss is a teacher and says, “The drama is in the classroom” and, “Teachers are the mothers to all professions.” Dr. Phyllis had 4,545,729 votes at press time.
So how did the rumors arise? Zach Anner was leading the votes until Dr. Phyllis surpassed him seemingly overnight. Some of Zach’s fans believe something fishy is going on with the vote tallying. And some are even going as far as suspecting that Oprah herself rigged the voting so that Dr. Phyllis would win. Seriously, people?
The rumors have created an uproar on both sides of the controversy with one side claiming tampering and manipulation of the votes, or at the very least a technical malfunction on the site, while the other side is sure that no one in Oprah’s camp would do something like that or knowingly allow any glitch to happen. Some viewers say they noticed Zach’s vote tally had actually gone down at one point, which several expert webmasters have said sometimes happens during extremely high volumes of activity in a short period of time. The numbers can get a little topsy-turvy but then are properly ironed out to the correct number of votes.
Another question bouncing around is why the contestants video views and votes don’t match up. But in fact, voters can vote numerous times and do not have to play the video in order to vote.
Comments on the site show that a lot of people have already swallowed these rumors hook, line and sinker before the people in charge of the competition have even had a chance to respond. Several comments left by angry readers say it makes them “sick that Oprah would do this.”
It appears the original rumor may have originated on Yahoo! Answers. In response to the first post one comment stated, “I’ve been watching this race closely, as I’m a big fan of Zach and I have to admit, Phyllis’s overnight vote spike has me very suspicious of this whole process. I believe Oprah has a vested interest in getting a likeness of herself on her new network.”
Whether a technical error occurred or the voting was rigged, or if the vote tally is completely correct, no doubt there will be rumors of a “conspiracy” for a long time to come. Zach Anner’s video and voting tally can be viewed here. And the Dr. Phyllis video and voting tally can be viewed here.
UPDATE: On June 23rd the Oprah Winfrey Network told EW, “The online voting rules for the ‘Your OWN Show’ video submission competition were carefully crafted to be fair to everyone. Any allegations of impropriety will be investigated and the appropriate actions taken to keep the process unbiased.”
EW also explained that, contrary to popular belief, votes on the website do not determine which contestant wins his or her own show. Voting helps qualify top finalists who will then compete on a reality series in the hopes of winning their own talk show on Oprah’s upcoming network.
Zach Anner also spoke to EW about his doubt that any ‘conspiracy’ or deliberate vote manipulation took place. I sincerely doubt that Oprah would do anything like that. She’s probably too busy building schools and helping children to even notice someone like me. I’m grateful for everyone’s continued support and to Oprah for giving me this opportunity.”
Oprah.com – Your Own Show