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Four-legged Colbert wins dog photo contest

  • Story Highlights
  • "Stephen Colbert el dos" beats Mozart in dog beauty pageant
  • Contest Web site says Mozart fans violated the voting rules
  • Mozart, a 6-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel, had been winning
By Eric Marrapodi
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Satirical TV anchorman Stephen Colbert may not have a dog in this fight, but his name alone may have helped a Pomeranian-Chihuahua mix puppy beat a 6-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel.

Mozart's owner had planned to give prize money to charities aiding New Orleans.

Stephen Colbert el dos rips the prize away from Mozart in the weekly competition.

In the online doggie beauty pageant, the canine Steven Colbert el dos won the latest weekly semifinal, which enables him to compete for a $1 million grand prize.

Colbert el dos from Georgia beat Mozart, or MoMo as he's known to his family and friends in New Orleans, Louisiana, to win cutest dog of the week.

"While it certainly would have been a lot of fun for MoMo to win this past week, we're excited for Stephen Colbert el dos and his owners. What a fun and entertaining ride it's been so far." said piano teacher Cara McCool, MoMo's owner.

"We're just happy for the attention this has brought to our charities as well as others supported by so many cute dogs in this competition," McCool said.

Her charities included: Redeemer Presbyterian Disaster Relief, Desire Street Ministries, Louisiana Teachers Save Our Students fund, Cavalier Rescue USA, Musical Arts Society of New Orleans, the Louisiana SPCA, and Teach for America.

Colbert el dos' winnings are pledged to attract a stork to his owners' house. The owners, Bryan and his wife, Allyson, are newlyweds and are hoping to use the prize money for in vitro fertilization treatments to start a family. Colbert el dos' owners asked not to have their last names published to protect their privacy.

There is some controversy over the weekly contest results. When the polls closed on Saturday at midnight Pacific time, Mozart was up by 131 votes. But on Monday the competition posted a message on its blog saying Mozart's fans had cheated.

"Mozart obviously worked very hard to receive over 4,500 valid votes in Week 8, but it's unfortunate that the judges had to remove 428 votes due to excessive voter accounts." The Cutest Dog Competition Web site, run by the All American Pet Brands, also said, "there is no evidence that Mozart's owner had any part in the creation of these fraudulent accounts. Colbert's votes showed no signs of cheating."

More than 60,000 people have uploaded photos of their adorable dogs to the contest's Web site. Voters have to register an e-mail account with the competition. The rules state only one vote per e-mail address per day.

"The fraudulent accounts, with e-mail addresses only one number apart, were all created on the same days, from the same computers, and all votes cast from these 70-plus accounts were received within one minute of each other from the same computers (which generally means the owner of these accounts simply logged off and logged back onto another account to vote again)," according to the competition Web site.

Bryan said he was shocked when he found out on Monday his dog had won.

"On Saturday night, I went to bed and we were down 150 votes," he said. "I know they announced the winners on the blog and I saw winner for Week 8 and I was expecting to see Mozart and I saw Stephen Colbert el dos and I just couldn't believe it." He said it was a great day for the 7-month-old puppy and his owners.

Their four-legged family includes three other dogs, all rescues, but they bought Colbert el dos from Puppies Galore in Lawrenceville, Georgia. When they met him, he was 2 months old, barely weighed a pound and would not eat.

The manager of the store said the puppy was regressing after he was separated from his siblings. Now Stephen Colbert el dos is eating well and, "He's as hyper as any puppy you'll see," Bryan said.

Last week, they entered the competition and said they only told a few friends and family members. They posted a note on a Stephen Colbert fan site and support for the pooch went viral.

A Web site said Colbert el dos had an invitation to appear on the "Colbert Report" if he made the top 12. Bryan said the TV show has not contacted them. Renata Luczak, a spokesperson for Comedy Central, could not confirm or deny the pet's booking, saying the "Colbert Report" "refrains from commenting on upcoming guests appearing on the show."

Colbert el dos' owners denied having anything to do with the fraudulent votes for Mozart. "We did not vote for Mozart a single time. And neither did anyone we know. Definitely no way," Bryan said.

The human comedian Colbert has wreaked havoc in other online competitions, from a Hungarian bridge-naming contest to a NASA competition to name a room in the international space station. In both cases, Colbert won the popular vote. Hungary declined to name the bridge after Colbert. NASA, instead of naming the room in his honor, sent a treadmill to space with the Colbert honorific.

In those contests, the competitions received heavy promotion during the show, with Colbert urging his viewers to participate. In the dog photo fight, Colbert had an impact without direct participation.

MoMo was automatically re-entered in the competition for this week. Over the next four weeks, four more dogs will have a chance to be voted into the semifinals. After finishing in second place two weeks in a row, MoMo would appears to be the favorite to advance, where he could get another shot at Stephen Colbert el dos.

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