by Mike Hayes - 05/12/2006
The shocking elimination of long-time American Idol favorite Chris Daughtry this week has propelled the increasingly popular Taylor Hicks into the role of favorite with the field of Idol hopefuls down to the final three.
Pinnacle Sportsbook made Daughtry the favorite immediately following the first performance by the 24 Idol finalists and, ever since, the 26-year-old has earned high praise from the Idol judges, so much so that he had been considered a virtual shoe-in to become American Idol 5.
It appeared unlikely that Daughtry, who at 14/1 was the longest price listed in the weekly elimination prop, would be ousted last week, but that is precisely what happened, leaving viewers, fellow contestants, the judges and Daughtry himself visibly stunned.
With Daughtry suddenly out of the picture, Pinnacle Sportsbook has made Hicks, the 29-year-old Alabama native, the 5/8 favorite, jumping him ahead of Katharine McPhee who is at 5/2 and remains the second choice. Elliot Yamin, who survived the Idol axe this week as a prohibitive -300 favorite to be bounced, is at 5/1.
Bodog has posted similar odds, making Hicks the 1/3 choice, ahead of McPhee at 2/1 and Yamin at 7/2.
"While somewhat unexpected, Chris' elimination didn't come as a complete surprise as we dropped his odds significantly following his lackluster performance Tuesday night," said Simon Noble of Pinnacle. "Meanwhile, Taylor appears to have hit a high note with Idol voters and the Soul Patrol through his consistently impressive performances and winning stage personality."
Popular belief was that McPhee would be the one to go as the 21-year-old Californian was clearly uncomfortable and out of her element singing Elvis Presley tunes. Although she has been considered one of the favorites to win, the judges clearly favored Hicks, Yamin and Daughtry during Tuesday's show.
This week, however, there will be no excuses, as the contestants each get to sing the song of their choice, in addition to a song selected by the judges and a third song selected by legendary producer Clive Davis.
While Daughtry attributes his being ousted to voter apathy, saying America assumed he would win and as a result did not take the time to vote, McPhee was no doubt the beneficiary of being the only remaining female contestant and perhaps some sympathy because the men were at an advantage singing songs from the King.
Noble said the hefty odds on Daughtry's departure resulted in a loss for the house on the elimination prop, but a significant win in futures wagering. "Bettors won the elimination prop but this bet was offset by the house win on the futures market as our customers strongly backed Chris to go on and win it all," said Noble. "We received a good amount of bets on Chris to be eliminated before the show on Tuesday and then a lot more after the phone lines closed from customers who had kept a close eye on the DialIdol.com rankings."
Perhaps contributing to the surprise of Daughtry's ouster was the fact that form has held true in recent weeks as the elimination favorite has in fact been the one to go in three of the previous four weeks.
Noble said he anticipates this change in pattern will result in increased interest in Idol wagering this week, with the potential for bets to be better distributed among the three finalists.
"We think it will further fuel the betting for next week's show. People don't like the favorite to be eliminated next to go out every week. It then gets too predictable," Noble said. "Some lucky bettors at Pinnacle Sports had 14/1 winning tickets on Chris and we think this may encourage a more even spread of money on the remaining three contestants for next week's show."
Yamin, a 27-year-old from Richmond, Va., has been made the 5/9 favorite to get bounced this week, with McPhee at 9/5 and Hicks at 6/1.
Idol has already generated unprecedented wagering interest at Pinnacle, Noble said, with action 20 times greater than what is wagered on the Oscars and the potential to top the NBA finals.
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