"Tucker-Wicks, 50, who teaches English at Young Middle Magnet School, declined to comment, saying OWN, The Oprah Winfrey Network, asked her not to speak with the press. Similarly, a publicist for the channel refused to speak on the record about the contest - though a press release announcing the top winners said a third party vetted the online votes before the final results were announced, eliminating votes which could not be authenticated, and the Top 8 winners did not change." - From blogs.tampabay.com/media/2010/07/tampa-schoolteacher-gets-one-step-closer-to-a-show-on-oprah-winfreys-new-cable-tv-network.html
"This is Oprah - she helps people for a living," said Zach Anner. "To think people are saying she's rigged the voting against me doesn't compute for me. It's not what I believe."
Several websites are reporting that the Network has stated that it would investigate the matter.
When contacted by EW, a spokesperson for OWN issued the following statement: "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."
On the other side of the coin there are numerous online reports that users on the internet forum 4Chan are responsible for the skewed vote in Anner's favor.
The online finalists, in order of verified vote count, are:
1. Jacqueline Wattimo of Waterton, MA with 9,360,096 votes.
2. Dr. Phyllis Tucker-Wicks of Tampa, FL with 8,453,803 votes.
3. Stacia Pierce of East Lansing, MI with 7,604,501 votes.
4. Kornelius Bascombe of Raleigh, NC with 5,856,075 votes.
5. Dr. Tony Roach of Abilene, TX with 3,842,648 votes.
6. Maria Holloway of Miami, FL with 3,796,219 votes.
7. Zach Anner of Austin, TX with 3,484,018 votes.
8. Jasbina Ahluwalia of Oak Brook, IL with 2,728,232 votes.