Up until this point, despite all the press he was getting, Ashton Kutcher was behind CNN in the race to become the first Twitter user with a million followers. Not anymore.
Kutcher surged past CNN on Thursday evening, likely clearing the last hurdle that stands between him and Ted Turner’s doorstep — he promised to ding dong ditch the CNN founder if he was the first to a million followers. Since then, Kutcher and others have upped the stakes. EA is offering Kutcher’s millionth follower a copy of every single game it makes in 2009 and a role in its Sims 3 game. And now Kutcher is offering to buy 10,000 bed nets to help stop the spread of malaria in Africa if he wins. CNN has also pledged to buy bed nets, win or lose.
But the stage is set for Kutcher to hit the mark first. With over 980,000 followers currently, he’s appearing tomorrow on Oprah to talk about Twitter along with the service’s CEO Evan Williams. And Oprah, who just secured her Twitter account today, has promised that she will send her first tweet tomorrow during the show.
Kutcher’s late surge to take the lead in Twitter followers has been pretty amazing. Today alone, he’s added tens of thousands of followers. This helped him overcome odds that were in CNN’s favor. The site Bookmaker.com said it had received thousands of bets on the race and favored CNN’s account to get there first at -500, with Kutcher at even money.
But one oddity in this whole thing is that apparently you can’t unfollow either Kutcher or CNN on Twitter right now! Go ahead, try it, you’ll get a nice error message saying something went wrong. Is Twitter trying to ensure Kutcher gets to a million in time for Oprah tomorrow? Tin foil hat time!
Update: Actually, as MobileCrunch’s Greg Kumparak just shared with me, you probably can’t unfollow either so that you can’t game Kutcher and EA’s millionth follower giveaway. So I hope you like your Ashton and CNN updates!
Another oddity is that some people are seeing follower counts go way up for certain users. The CNN account is one of them, see the screenshot below. (Though I still see the correct amount.) Twitter, it appears, is having some issues leading up to the breaking of the 1 million barrier.
Here’s the video Kutcher recorded on Ustream about the milestone. Notably, Kutcher says he’s going to start following more people.