In response to a lawsuit filed by Ruben Studdard, the winner of the second edition of Fox's American Idol, the owners of Birmingham, Alabama clothing maker 205 Flava, Inc. have made explosive allegations about secret payoffs to Ruben. The Birmingham News reports that 205 Flava owners Willie and Frederick Jenkins allege that they paid Ruben at least $1,000 per week to wear their 205 jerseys, a clear violation of Idol rules if true.
According to the Jenkinses, Ruben approached the brothers in March asking for a weekly payment for wearing their jerseys -- but for the payment not to be made out in his name so that Fox and Idol wouldn't find out. Instead, say the brothers, the payment was made to Ruben's brother, Kevin Studdard. The payments were then increased to $1,500 per week after Ruben asked for more money. In their press conference, the Jenkinses' lawyer displayed copies of eight checks woth a total of $10,000, with seven written to Kevin Studdard and one to Ruben's manager.
A spokesperson for Idol confirmed that outside clothing deals by the contestants are forbidden because the show doesn't permt contestants to "promot[e] a brand in competition with our sponsors." Thus, any deal between Ruben and 205 Flava would have violated the show's rules.
Ruben's lawyer declined comment, saying only, "The public will hear from us soon." We can't wait for the next stage of this battle. Fasten your seat belts, we're in for a bumpy ride.