For the second time in just over a month, an online contest promising a celebrity concert as a prize looks to have been hijacked by a group of determined Internet pranksters.
The target this time? Taylor Swift, who could very well end up performing for an audience made up entirely of students from Massachusetts’ Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
The 22-year-old songstress has partnered with Papa John’s and textbook company Chegg for a promotion that will award a live concert to the school with the highest online vote total.
Thanks to an effort among Reddit, 4chan and other Internet users, the country’s oldest day school for the deaf holds a commanding lead over the second-place school. Even the Horace Mann School’s Wikipedia page has been edited to include mention of the 4chan-led initiative.
But according to the contest’s official rules, Swift could still opt out of the performance.
“If Music Event details cannot be agreed upon with Taylor Swift and the Grand Prize Winning School, Chegg may award the Music Event to another school,” is one of the stipulations, the New York Daily News reports.
Regardless of the Internet community’s intentions, the school could have the last laugh.
According to Boston.com, those who are deaf can still enjoy music through vibrations, visuals and other assistance. Furthermore, the school’s headmaster Jeremiah Ford said he would be thrilled to welcome Swift to the Horace Mann School for a concert, should it win the voting.
“There are accommodations that make music come alive for deaf people,” Ford told Boston.com. “They have different abilities. They’re not disabled. They’re not impaired.”
“It might have been done with mal intent, and shame on them, but what a great opportunity for us,” he added.
Chegg will also award $10,000 grants to the music departments of the top five vote-getting schools.
Boston.com reports that Ford also said any money the school might receive from the promotion would benefit the students, some of whom are involved in drumming and other acoustic activities. The school used to have a music teacher and has discussed reviving the program.
In July, a similar Internet campaign launched by Boston Phoenix writer David Thorpe sent Pitbull to Kodiak, Alaska, after the city’s Walmart received the most “likes” on its Facebook page. The Miami rapper performed for a crowd of hundreds at the Coast Guard base in Kodiak, and also received a care package containing bear repellent from the local Walmart, the Daily News reported.
Clarification: Language has been added to the post to indicate that the school is the oldest day school for the deaf (the American School for the Deaf is older), and that the campaign began first with 4chan and was picked up by Reddit.