Canadian Idol Champ Wins by Just 3% in Closest Race Ever; Winner Announced Sunday on CTV

From a CTV media release:

It’s a Nail-Biter: Canadian Idol Champ Wins by Just 3% in Closest Race Ever; Winner Announced Sunday on CTV

Toronto, ON (September 14, 2006) – Is it Craig or Eva? This year’s Canadian Idol champion has won by a nose in the closest vote ever, CTV announced today as preparations continue for this Sunday’s blockbuster season finale.

— Western Canada determines winner as voting details announced —
— African Children’s Choir join Nelly Furtado and Melissa O’Neil as special guests —

With three days still to go before the winner is revealed, CTV is taking advantage of the opportunity to reveal voting data from Monday’s final vote that demonstrates it’s a horserace like never before. And unlike most federal elections, the West, for once, has had the final say, playing king-maker – or queen-maker – in Canada’s biggest popular vote this year.

By the time the eastern voting window closed at 11 p.m. EDT following Canadian Idol’s final performance episode on Monday, votes for Top 2 competitors Eva Avila and Craig Sharpe had resulted in a virtual tie. It was votes from Western Canada during the second voting window that determined the winner, with Sunday’s eventual champ edging out the runner-up by only 131,000 votes out of a total of nearly four million cast, a margin of just 3.3 per cent. The identity of the winner still remains a closely-guarded secret, secured in a sealed envelope under lock and key until Sunday night’s show.

After 12,173 auditions, 31 episodes and 36,354,969 votes, it’s down to just two competitors as summer’s most-watched television program comes to a close in a performance-packed, 90-minute season finale this Sunday, September 17 at 7 p.m. EDT (check local listings) on CTV. The fate of Top 2 finalists Eva Avila, 19, from Gatineau, QC and Craig Sharpe, 16, from Upper Island Cove, NL will be revealed at the conclusion of Sunday’s show, but before that, CTV presents a non-stop musical celebration of Canada’s favourite TV series. Avila and Sharpe will be reunited with the remaining eight finalists from the Top 10, who return to the Canadian Idol stage for several group numbers. Among the many highlights scheduled for Sunday’s broadcast:

- With international superstar Nelly Furtado and reigning Canadian Idol champ Melissa O’Neil already confirmed as guests for the live finale, CTV also announced today that the African Children’s Choir has been added to the line-up. The African Children’s Choir is a group of young African singers aged seven to eleven who perform around the world as ambassadors for children left orphaned by the AIDS pandemic on their continent. The choir will perform with Canadian Idol Top 10 during the broadcast.

-     With her new album Loose burning up the charts around the world, Nelly Furtado introduces her UK chart-topping hit “Maneater” to Canada live on the Canadian Idol stage.

-     Platinum-selling recording artist Melissa O’Neil returns to the stage that crowned her the first female Canadian Idol to perform her hit single “Speechless.”

-    Canadian Idol will go live several times to hometown rallies for both Avila and Sharpe. CTV’s Carol Anne Mehan will report live from Avila’s hometown rally at City Hall in Gatineau, Quebec while cameras will also go live from Sharpe’s local celebration at the Upper Island Cove Community Centre in Newfoundland with NTV’s Danielle Butt.

-    The Canadian Idol Top 10 will present a tribute to their hometowns with a touching performance from a well-known Canadian idol. The 10 performers will also kick off the show with a six-minute medley of hits from George Michael, Macy Gray, Elton John, Simple Minds, Heart and Led Zeppelin, backed by the Canadian Idol choir.

-    As per Canadian Idol tradition, the final two competitors will perform a duet together as well as perform individually.

-    A surprise from two of the special guests featured earlier this season on Canadian Idol will be revealed at the end of the broadcast.

After the winner is revealed, they will once again perform the Chantal Kreviazuk-penned Canadian Idol winner’s single “Meant to Fly.” The single will be released to radio stations at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 18 just as the winner begins a day-long press junket with media outlets from across the country. Last year’s single, Melissa O’Neil’s “Alive,” debuted at Number 1 and remained there for seven weeks while going four-times platinum.

At a media conference following the show, the winner will sign a recording contract with Sony BMG Music (Canada) Inc. Next week, the winner will begin recording their debut album, to be released by Sony BMG this fall.