As the 12th season of American Idol comes down the final stretch, viewers are reminded how truly intense the show becomes when the number of contestants is dwindled down to five. Merely making the show is a great achievement, but the final five always tends to feature powerhouses that go on to relative success regardless of the show’s outcome. Just two seasons ago, the critically acclaimed Haley Reinhart only took third despite public praise from the likes of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page! Nope, not even a glowing review from Led Zeppelin or being a fan favorite guarantees victory. This has made guessing American Idol’s winner every year a wonderful conversation topic; it’s a show watched by millions of viewers, and not one has any true intuition on the show’s winner. The best we can do is keep guessing, and root for our favorites – as divisive as the living room may become. It’s not like American Idol has any unqualified contestants in the final five. Truly anyone can win. But even if the outcome is impossible to predict, there are several sources – from Vegas to conspiracy theorists – that claim to have a hunch.
The saying goes that one can bet on any form of entertainment with a following. Sportsbooks make millions every year from bettors engaging in everything from the NBA to horse racing and lacrosse. There were even a large chunk of people that won money last year simply because they predicted Obama would win the election. The odds to that were about -300, meaning you could win $100 if you put $300 down. From sports to politics, the variety of betting options on most sportsbooks is daunting. It goes without saying that American Idol draws a fair amount of enthusiastic bettors, who place anywhere from a few bucks to hundreds of thousands on their pick for the season. Some books offer prop bets, like who will be eliminated on a specific note, but most sites just specialize in the big daddy of American Idol bets: who will win this season? For season 12, there are three contestants out of the five with a relatively even chance of winning. Kree Harrison, Candice Glover, and Angela Miller pay $16, $20, and $22, respectively, if you put down $10 for one to win. That makes Harrison the slight favorite, at least on popular sportsbook Bovada. Sportsbooks tend to vary on odds, but for American Idol the consensus is often unanimous.
It would be interesting to hear how Amber Holcomb and Janelle Arthur would react to being called underdogs by Vegas. Do you think Holcomb has a shot at winning this season? Place $10 to win $120. Arthur pays even better, at $150 for the same $10 entry. The return on investment for either one is extremely high, but so is the risk. Vegas deemed Holcomb and Arthur the heavy underdogs for a reason. Perhaps they’re going on previous trends, or modern trends – like tracking the popularity of each one on Twitter. Or maybe they have an insider who informs them that a certain contest will “definitely not” make it. Either way, it’s never good to go against Vegas, especially on a show like American Idol – where underdogs have an even less chance of winning than sports, since American Idol is often determined by fan popularity as opposed to set rules and officiating. The Idol producers certainly wouldn’t want a contestant who’s received lukewarm by fans to win, would they? The show’s popularity would decline. There’s a reason the winner is received well in most seasons, even if you begrudgingly wished the prize went to another contestant.
Based on fan popularity and Vegas odds, one could likely narrow down American Idol’s season 12 winner to Kree Harrison, Candice Glover, and Angela Miller. Each contestant has had their memorable moments, and will remain a fond memory in the minds of all fans regardless. In terms of a specific performance though, it’s hard for anyone to match up to Glover’s cover of The Cure’s “Love Song”, where she channeled her inner Adele and brought everything to their feet. Longtime judge Randy Jackson immediately called it “one of the greatest performances” in the show’s history, as he and the other judges – along with the entire crowd – gave Glover a standing ovation. She was overcome with emotion there, and it wouldn’t be surprised to see similar tears of joy if she wins season 12, which is certainly a strong possibility.