The Birmingham, Alabama, clothing company behind the “205” jerseys Ruben Studdard wore on “American Idol” is claiming it secretly paid the singer for the endorsement.
Responding to a lawsuit Studdard filed last week against 205 Flava Inc. for wrongly profiting from his image, founders Willie and Frederick Jenkins announced Wednesday (August 6) that they began paying him $1,000 a week in March.
The brothers said Studdard requested 205 Flava Inc. write checks to his brother, Kevin Studdard, and his manager, Ron Edwards, in order to keep it confidential from “American Idol,” which prohibits contestants from having endorsement deals. The company provided MTV News with copies of several checks, which were increased to $1,500 in May.
Studdard’s lawyer, Byron Perkins, did not immediately return calls Wednesday, but he told the Associated Press, “The public will hear from us soon.”
The Jenkins brothers also claim Studdard stole the logo they designed and used it for his own company, RCS 205. “The ’coattails’ Ruben claims we ride, we made,” they said in a statement. “His lawsuit is about greed.”
In Studdard’s lawsuit, he claims it was his idea to put the Birmingham area code in large letters on the front of the jerseys. The suit also charges 205 Flava Inc. with failing to provide financial records and continuing to use Ruben’s photo on its Web site after being asked to remove it.
The Jenkins brothers said they met Studdard when he came into their store asking for sponsorship of his group, Just a Few Cats. They claim they provided Ruben with free jerseys before he was a contestant on “American Idol” and that the singer demanded money after the third time he wore one on the show.
“I was shocked at first, because he had come to me when he was in need and I extended myself to help him, and now he was coming back to me saying, ’If I’m wearing your clothing, you have to pay me for doing so,’ ” Frederick Jenkins said.
A representative for “American Idol” called the matter a personal issue and said the producers of the show do not comment on the personal lives of the contestants.
Michael Jaffa, vice president of business and legal affairs for “American Idol,” told the AP there is a ban on contestants signing outside contracts because the show has agreements with other companies, such as Old Navy.