The local radio station, Mediacorp’s GOLD 905 has finally decided to award the “rightful winner” of its Celebrity Name Drop Game the full prize worth S$10,000, after facing massive backlash from netizens on social media.
To recap, GOLD 905 hosted the Celebrity Name Drop contest from 16 March, in which the DJ will play a series of sound clips of celebrity voices that listeners have to identify in the correct sequence. Listeners also have to pronounce the celebrities’ names correctly.
These are the celebrities that the contestants had to name in the correct order—Tony Hadley, Madonna, Maggie Wheeler, Ellen DeGeneres, Jim Carrey, George Clooney, David Bowie, Belinda Carlisle, Julie Andrews, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Meryl Streep, Michael Buble, and Rebecca Lim.
Two contestants, Muhammad Shalehan and Jerome Tan, were able to name the exact 14 celebrities. Although Mr Shalehan was the first contestant to name the celebs correctly, the radio station eventually announced Mr Tan as the winner.
The announcement had led many netizens to question why Mr Shalehan’s entry did not win when he had correctly named the 14 celebs’ names. The radio station responded that his pronunciation of ‘Tony Hadley’—the lead singer of the 80’s British group Spandau Ballet—was wrong.
Following that, Mr Shalehan decided to send an email to GOLD 905 and seek for further explanations.
GOLD 905 replied two days after and said, “We have reviewed the relevant audio clip of your call and our decision remains final. The name ‘Tony Hadley’ had been mispronounced by you.”
Determined to prove his enunciation, Mr Shalehan reached out to Tony Hadley personally. He sent an email titled “A normal citizen from Singapore needs your dear help Mr Tony Hadley” to Mr Hadley’s manager, Matt Glover, which he found on Google.
Surprisingly on 10 May, Mr Shalehan received a reply and a video from Mr Hadley, saying that he approved Mr Shalehan’s enunciation.
“You might have had a slight accent, but as far as I’m concerned, you said my name correctly, so you should be entitled to whatever the prize was,” Mr Hadley said.
Mr Shalehan also shared Mr Hadley’s reply on Facebook on 18 May.
Following that, GOLD 905 announced on Facebook that it has reached out to Mr Shalehan and offered a token of appreciation as a “gesture of goodwill” for his “exceptional commitment to the contest”. Although it did not announce the amount publicly, many media reported that it was S$5,000.
Nevertheless, the radio station affirmed its decision and was adamant that Mr Shalehan’s pronunciation of ‘Tony Hadley’ was wrong. GOLD 905 also uploaded a video of Mr Shalehan’s pronunciation and Mr Tan’s pronunciation–the winner of the game–for the public to compare.
“However, we are heartened by the passion shown by Mr Shalehan, firstly in participating in the contest and then in reaching out to us several times. Although we had communicated to Mr Shalehan that our decision was final according to the rules of the contest, we are touched by his commitment and resourcefulness – including reaching out to Tony Hadley,” it said.
GOLD 905 further asserted, “So while our decision remains final, and this would not be something we normally do, as a gesture of goodwill, we have reached out to Mr Shalehan with a token of appreciation for his exceptional commitment to the contest and loyal support for GOLD 905.”
In response to the post, Mr Shalehan noted that he is still discussing the matter with his family, seemingly unsure of whether to accept the token of appreciation. He stated that GOLD 905 has misjudged his entry and refused to make explanations.
“Even up till now, I still strongly believe that I was the FIRST to solve the quiz completely and correctly on 21st April. Also, as of now, Gold 905 have only made statements that I mispronounced the name Tony Hadley without ever explaning how or why.”
“My belief was further reinforced by Mr Tony Hadley’s endorsement of my pronouncement of his own name. I still stand by my conviction and feel that Gold 905 have misjudged my entry. I deserve to win the prize,” he added.
GOLD 905’s post received backlash from netizens and many beseeched Mr Shalehan to decline the token of appreciation that he was offered.
One netizen offered his “fullest support” to Mr Shalehan whom he believes is the “rightful winner” of the game. He added that GOLD 905 has “successfully lost credibility”.
Meanwhile, GOLD 905 suddenly made a U-turn today (22 May) and conceded Mr Shalehan’s pronunciation was indeed correct as Mr Hadley himself had acknowledged it.
In fact, it will award the full prize money worth S$10,000 and shopping spree to Mr Shalehan.
“We have reached out to Mr Shalehan again to convey that we are deeply sorry. Since Tony Hadley has said that Mr Shalehan said his name correctly, who are we to disagree? The full prize of $10,000 cash and shopping spree will also be awarded to Mr Shalehan,” it stated on Facebook.