Tarah Smith wins $382,193 grand prize in Fox's 'Unan1mous' finale
By Wade Paulsen, 05/11/2006
In the end, all of Fox's remaining Unan1mous contestants finally agreed. Even the conniving, double-crossing Jonathan.
After Unan1mous host (and executive producer) J.D. Roth warned them that they had one "final shot to do the right thing" and that no one would win a penny of what remained of the show's prize money if their next vote didn't result in a unanimous decision, last night's broadcast of Unan1mous' season finale ended with the show's seven remaining contestants agreeing to give the remaining prize money to Tarah Smith, a previously eliminated 25-year-old handbag designer who had managed to vote herself back into the eligible contestant group during last week's Unan1mous broadcast.
By the time of the final vote, Unan1mous' initial $1.5 million prize pot had dwindled to only $382,193, with the rest of the prize amount having ticked away after the first of what would eventually become seven voting attempts had failed to result in a unanimous decision. Tarah found out that she had won by opening a safe box that contained a $382,193 check made out to her. Had the box been empty, it would have meant that the final vote hadn't been unanimous and no one would have won any money.
During the final vote, the only contestants still eligible to win were Tarah and the same threesome who had been eligible during the previous vote: Jonathan (who cast the only dissenting vote in the show's first episode, blocking Steve from winning the $1.5 million), Richard (who got back in the game as a sympathy vote but was widely disliked) and Jameson (a gay activist HR manager who drove Kelly, a "committed Christian," to walk off the show during one of its early episodes and cost the rest of the contestants half the then-remaining prize money).
The previous vote had ended in a 3-3-1 tie between Jameson and Jonathan, who had spent much of his time in the show lying about everything from his personal wealth to claims that he had testicular cancer and also attempted to convince the rest of the cast that first Richard and then Vanessa had cast the initial vote's dissenting ballot.
Initially, the tie didn't seem likely to be easily resolved, however once Jonathan began boasting that the game wouldn't even have lasted as long as it had if he hadn't secretly cast the initial dissenting vote (a revelation that he apparently thought would make the other contestants feel that he was more worthy of their votes but instead backfired), two of the three ineligible contestants (Steve and Vanessa) and Jameson began attempting to convince everyone that they should award the prize to Tarah.
In the end, the only holdout was the third ineligible player, Adam Gersh, a professional poker player and aspiring actor who claimed that Tarah had "dogged me out so many times" but dramatically changed (or at least appeared to change) his final vote just before submitting it.
"There were people who really wanted this and were just as I was and they are happy for me... they are genuinely happy for me... it was a huge blessing," Tarah gushed after winning. "I'm completely blown away right now, I'm completely blown away that I won and that we did it together."
"The seven of you have proven that generosity can be greater than greed," Roth announced to the contestants after Tarah's win was revealed. "Everybody came to realize the real reward here wasn't that dollar amount, it was being able to give something to someone else," a suddenly magnanimous Adam later explained.
Although many of the show's final contestant comments were directed at future Unan1mous participants, it remains unclear at this point whether there will actually be additional seasons of the "open-ended" series that ultimately lasted eight episodes. While American Idol has remained a ratings phenomenon for the network, Fox has frequently faired rather poorly with sequels to its more novel reality-show concepts (e.g., Joe Millionaire and My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance). Although the network has been quick to point out that Unan1mous ranks as the highest-rated new show of the 2005-06 television season, it also likely realizes most of the show's success was the result of having Idol's results shows broadcasts as its lead-in.
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