VFTW started at the Survivor Sucks message board and moved to a GeoCities website during season three of American Idol. The very first VFTW pick during Season 3 was Jennifer Hudson, dubbed "Boomquisha Santiago" or just "Boomie," during the semi-finals, but the site never picked her again as she improved in further weeks. When Hudson sang "Circle of Life" during finals, the camera went to a shot of Hudson's family members, with a cousin who sat with her arms folded while the others cheered. This cousin was dubbed "Whatevia," the namesake of VFTW's annual awards. The site began to upset regular Idol viewers with their support of John Stevens and Jasmine Trias, but it was largely unknown to the general public at this time.
During American Idol's fourth season, the site moved to its own domain name. VFTW gained its first bit of notoriety when Scott Savol outlasted Constantine Maroulis in the top 6 of Idol's fourth season and again appeared in the news when underage crooner Kevin Covais made it to the top 11 in season five.
Season six of American Idol became a turning point for the website due to its support of candidates Antonella Barba and Sanjaya Malakar. Vote for the Worst was one of the first websites to break the story about Antonella Barba's racy online pictures. The site then made headlines by proving that the raciest pictures that appeared online (involving a Barba lookalike performing a sexual act) were not of Barba. After Barba and Sundance Head were voted out of the competition, Vote for the Worst selected Sanjaya Malakar as their pick. Malakar went on to last 6 more weeks in the competition, becoming a cultural phenomenon while gaining momentum along the way with support from celebrities such as Howard Stern. Entertainment Weekly called Malakar "the most popular Vote for the Worst candidate ever" and Malakar helped make Vote for the Worst a household name.
Season seven of American Idol saw the site stir up some major controversies. As the season began, Vote for the Worst posted a blog that season seven was being stacked with contestants with prior music industry experience and the controversy was picked up by news sources, including MTV, who decided to ask American Idol producer Ken Warwick about the issue. The site went a step further to also prove that Randy Jackson, a judge on American Idol, was the vice president of A&R at MCA Records while Carly Smithson, a season 7 contestant, recorded an album there. The second controversy started by the site was exposing contestant David Hernandez as a former gay stripper. Outside all of the controversies, Vote for the Worst supported Kristy Lee Cook during the time that judge favorite Michael Johns was eliminated, as well as Brooke White when more popular Carly Smithson was eliminated.
During season eight of American Idol, Vote for the Worst's longest running contestant was Megan Joy, a quirky singer from Utah who made bird noises. The site also posted pictures of popular contestant Adam Lambert kissing another man, leading the general public to question Adam's sexuality due to the fact that he had not discussed this topic on the show. Bill O'Reilly ran Vote for the Worst's pictures of Adam during a news segment, but the show cropped the pictures to eliminate the actual kiss.
During season nine, Tim Urban broke the record for Vote for the Worst's longest-running American Idol pick ever, as well as tying for longest pick ever with Jaydee Bixby of Canadian Idol Season 3. He remained their pick for nine weeks: from the top 24 to the top seven. He was eliminated in 7th"the same week as Sanjaya Malakar in Season 6. Michael Lynche was originally selected for Top 5 week, but after the performances, the website switched to Casey James, marking the first time the website had changed its mind on which contestant to vote for based on performance alone. VFTW chose Lee DeWyze for the finale, and he won. This supported VFTW's theory that a female will never win the show again. According to bloggers at VFTW, the seasons have resulted in "3, white, male, brunette, soft-rockers" winners in a row.
Vote for the Worst was successful during seasons ten and eleven, supporting the 4th and 5th "white guys with a guitar," Scotty McCreery and Phillip Phillips, to win the title in five years.
Expansion to other shows
Because of the success of their American Idol campaign, Vote for the Worst has expanded its site to sometimes include other shows. The site helped support Casey Leblanc's 6 week run during Canadian Idol 3, Jaydee Bixby's unprecedented 9 week "worst" run from the final 10 to the final 2 during Canadian Idol 5, and the infamous Bristol Palin on Dancing with the Stars.
Not all of the shows mentioned on VFTW are in a bad way. The site is a big fan of America's Best Dance Crew and supported Fanny Pak in season 2. There was also an unofficial group that supported Dynamic Edition in season 3. There was also an unofficial group that supported Poreotix during season 5. Currently they are supporting ICONic Boyz in the finale of season 6.
As of April 2, 2012, VFTW officially began including The Voice on their main page, along with American Idol. The Voice was given its own forum thread and the supported contestants were also given a place on the site's main banner, making it the only show that has received these honors since American Idol and the site's conception.
Reaction from American Idol
American Idol producers rarely acknowledge the site, but Nigel Lythgoe, an executive producer, did issue a statement, calling Vote for the Worst "a fly buzzing around a cow" during season six of American Idol to play down any press the site had received about being influential. In later seasons, Lythgoe has had a more playful repartee with the website, sending the site's Twitter account humorous tweets. Legal action has been threatened against the website from fans of American Idol, but to date neither Fox nor the series have issued statements regarding any lawsuits. Della Terza claims that lawyers involved with the program have contacted him twice about filing a lawsuit, but nothing has yet been filed against the site.
While many American Idol fans claim Vote for the Worst promotes hate speech and bullying on their message boards and online comments, some lesser known contestants from American Idol, have embraced the site. Josiah Leming, a contestant from season 7, is a member of the website and gave an interview to their weekly radio show. Chris Sligh, a season 6 contestant, gave a shoutout to site creator Della Terza during the top 11 performance show by saying "Hi, Dave." Sligh and fellow contestant Phil Stacey have also posted on the site's message board, along with many other former contestants such as Brenna Gethers, Chris Labelle, Phuong Pham, and Montana Martin Iles. Season 7 finalist Amanda Overmyer has also been vocal about her support of the website. Even season 9 runner-up Crystal Bowersox has posted on American Idol's Facebook and Twitter that she loves VFTW.