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'American Idol' winner Ruben Studdard nixes '205' jerseys, seeks more cash


By Wade Paulsen, 06/11/2003 

Anyone with the illusion that American Idol winner Ruben Studdard valued anything other than cold, hard cash had better skip this article.

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The Associated Press reports that Ruben has decided to stop wearing the distinctive jerseys that he wore throughout Idol. The jerseys all featured the number 2-0-5, the area code of Birmingham, Alabama, and had been provided free of charge to Ruben by their manufacturer, 205 Flava in Birmingham.


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Why? According to Ruben, "205 Flava is not indicative of what I am about." Ahh, they can't live up to Ruben's values. What is it? Environmental pollution? Sweatshop labor?

Nope -- it's that they haven't signed Ruben to the big-money endorsement deal that he thought he deserved. Although Ruben refused further comment beyond his seemingly high-minded brushoff of 205 Flava, his business adviser said, "I want Ruben to be rewarded for his success via merchandise sales. I don't want people to prosper if they are exploiting my friend."

EXPLOITING Ruben? By giving him free jerseys after he asked for them? The head of 205 Flava commented, "I don't understand why this man would say what he said. I have been behind him 110 percent."

Of course, it's Ruben's prerogative to cash in on his success. No one can blame him for seeking a clothing endorsement and switching brands. But to blast the people who gave him free jerseys when he was Ruben Studdard, nobody, because they didn't sign him to a big-money deal when he became Ruben Studdard, American "idol," is too hypocritical to ignore. Ruben needs to remember the old saying about being nice to people when you're on the way up, so that they'll be nice to you when you're on the way down.

Let's hope that J Records head Clive Davis brings an ego deflator to Ruben's recording sessions, or Ruben won't be able to fit his head in the studio door.

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