June 26, 2010 05:00:26 GMT
A spokesperson said there is no favoritism in the online voting between Zach Anner and Phyllis Turner-Wicks to become the next TV star.
Oprah Winfrey's new venture with OWN is not off to a smooth beginning. Some people have accused the network of rigging the votes for "Search for the Next TV Star", bringing as well a racial issue since the two finalists are from different race.
In the contest to win a TV show, Oprah asked hopefuls to submit an online audition tape at four Kohl's stores. Around 10,000 signed on, and two, Phyllis Turner-Wicks and Zach Anner, are qualified in the top 10. Beside being featured in an eight-episode boot camp, these ten are also open for public voting.
African American Turner-Wicks is a college professor who wants to reveal the "days and lives of a teacher" in a reality show. Meanwhile, white Anner is wheelchair-bound and he pitched in the idea of a "travel show for people who never thought they could travel."
These two stood out among the top 10 by votes but Anner's came on top especially since an endorsement from John Mayer. Shortly after, Turner-Wicks' vote also surged high, prompting Anner's fans to accuse OWN of messing up with the voting system.
In response, OWN's spokesperson said, "No contestant has been favored in this competition. The rules were designed to ensure that it is run fairly and in an unbiased manner," adding all votes will go through double verification check.
Anner has also released a statement which puts Oprah in a better light. "This is Oprah - she helps people for a living," the 25-year-old told ABC News. "To think people are saying she's rigged the voting against me doesn't compute for me. It's not what I believe."
However, OWN refuse to stand still and do nothing. "We are conducting compliance reviews and we are investigating the allegations," said the spokesperson.
Voting ends July 3. As of writing time, Anner has received 8.4 million votes while Turner-Wicks gathers 6.7 million.