LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - “American Idol” underdog Sanjaya Malakar has finally joined the ranks of losers but could end up parlaying his fame into a winning career.
Malakar, 17, whose dreamy smile, wacky hair styles and soft, mediocre voice made him “Something To Talk About” across the nation, said on Thursday his months with the popular TV singing contest were the “most amazing experience” of his young life.
“I wouldn’t change anything for the world,” Malakar told KIIS FM radio on Thursday.
Malakar became the most searched male celebrity on Yahoo!, beating fictional boy wizard Harry Potter, and has reportedly attracted millions of dollars in potential offers.
One pop culture expert said Malakar could be the next tween — pre-teen — idol, especially if he teams up with his stunning sister Shyamali, 20, who also auditioned for “American Idol” but failed to make it to the final 24.
“If I were an executive at Disney or Nickelodeon I would be rushing to sign them both up. He is a really cute kid and it is no surprise he has become a breakthrough star,” said Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television.
Malakar seemed taken aback by the buzz that inspired Internet spoof videos, T-shirts and even a backlash campaign aimed at sabotaging the credibility of the show.
“I’m still just Sanjaya from Seattle,” he told KIIS. “It’s kind of fun to look in a magazine and see your face, but after a while it’s kind of weird.”
Asked whether he was aware of a reported $15 million in offers, he said “Wow! Not that I know of.”
Malakar has been offered a guest appearance on the hit Disney tween TV show “Hannah Montana” and Kentucky Fried Chicken has offered him a lifetime supply of its chicken bowl dinner if he wears a bowl-style hairdo on national television.
“If all the money that Sanjaya stands to make from CD sales, endorsement deals and TV sitcom appearances is added up, then Sanjaya likely has already won American Idol,” said Internet site www.realitytvmagazine.com.