It is always interesting to note who has the lead as far as professional oddsmakers and power polls at the beginning of a season of a contest that is divided by popular vote. This sets up the comparison with other like contests and especially at season's end to see if the oddsmakers got it right from onset, slowly came around to picking the eventual winner after a few eliminations, or not at all. "American Idol" is one of those shows. And right at the onset, it looks as if Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez could be in the Season 11 finale, just by the judges responses alone.
What do the professional oddsmakers say?
According to Bovada, a sporting odds website, the least likely to win "American Idol" this year is Jeremy Rosado, the young man saved from going home during the Top 24 results by judge Jennifer Lopez' Wild Card pick. Of the Top 13, he posted 30/1 odds of emerging the Season 11 winner.
Not too far from him is DeAndre Brackensick, the 17-year-old R&B crooner with all the hair, and Erika Van Pelt, the mobile DJ. Both posted 25/1 odds of winning. Brackensick was also a Wild Card choice (Steven Tyler).
The last Wild Card pick, Jermaine Jones is next with 22/1 odds.
It should be pointed out that odds of winning, regardless of how high the odds might be against a particular individual, is no clear indication that the person with the best odds ratio will actually finish the season at the top, nor the worst at the bottom. They are simply prognosticated odds -- a likelihood, if you will. Although odds can be used to predict a winner, they are not actually a clear-cut prediction due to the fact that they allow for the possibility (such as Jeremy Rosado's 30-to-1 odds) that any of the contestants has a chance of ultimately winning the contest.
That being said, the "voice that the world has been waiting for" (in the words of judge Steven Tyler), that of Joshua Ledet, is expected to tap out in the sixth position. His odds: 9/1.
So who do the professional oddsmakers think will make it to the finale? At present, they're in line with the judges. Jessica Sanchez has the second-best odds at 4/1 and Phillip Phillips has the best odds to win it all with 7/2 odds.
But will they make it? It is difficult to tell. Last year's most likely to win, Pia Toscano, was summarily voted off the show in the ninth position. Scotty McCreery would go on to win, battling Lauren Alaina in the finale.
"American Idol" is a strange cross between a personality contest and a merit competition, where personality most likely will win out. But there are all sorts of factors that see "American Idol" viewers voting for one finalist over another. Of course, there is also no way of knowing if any type of mitigating circumstances affect the vote with regard to the electronic voting methods (glitches, bad tabulations, down phone lines, etc.).
And then there is the fickleness of the "American Idol" viewer, where a vote could be cast for one contestant one week, another the next. There are voters who continue voting even after their favorites have fallen by the wayside. And then there is the viewer backlash vote (or non-vote), where the viewer votes for someone other than whoever the judges are touting (like, for instance, the touting of Phillips, Ledet, and Sanchez at present).
(There is also the unknown factor of those voting for the worst contestant. This voting phenomenon is exhibited by a contestant being chosen by the snarky website "Vote For The Worst" with the intent of the website's followers to vote for the supposed "worst" contestant to keep them in the competition. Why? To alter what the "Vote For The Worst" contends is a rigged game from the beginning, the audience manipulated by the judges, the backstories, giving some contestants more airtime than others, etc. in order to get the finalist the show desires to win to the finale. Whether their ministrations have been effective or not -- they claim credit for the success of Tim Urban and Sanjaya Malakar, but the claim is unverifiable -- the posts, comments, and critiques are usually rather amusing.)
Favorable odds or not this far from the finale, one thing is certain: "American Idol" will choose one of the 13 finalists as the winner by season's end. Besides making money, it's why they produce the show.
American Idol Season 11 Odds To Win
13. Jeremy Rosado - 30/1
11. DeAndre Brackensick - 25/1
11. Erika Van Pelt - 25/1
10. Jermaine Jones - 22/1
9. Heejun Han - 12/1
7. Hollie Cavanaugh - 10/1
7. Skylar Laine - 10/1
6. Joshua Ledet - 9/1
4. Elise Testone - 14/2
4. Shannon Magrane - 14/2
3. Colton Dixon - 7/1
2. Jessica Sanchez - 4/1
1. Phillip Phillips - 7/2
(photo credit: José Cordeiro / SPTuris, Wikimedia Commons)