Coca-Cola and McDonalds, facing criticism for the judges selection at the percussive dance "Sprite Step Off" in Atlanta, announced they would award a co-prize to the second place team from a chapter from Alpha Kappa Alpha along with the original winner, a chapter from Zeta Tau Alpha.
Sponsors Coca-Cola and McDonald's did not intend to create a controversy with the 2010 Sprite Step Off, but that's exactly what they got, and the fall-out resulted in a co-winner rather than the single winner chosen by impartial judges.
Hosted in Atlanta by MTV, the 2010 Sprite Step Off intended to demonstrate the best of percussive dance, where participants produce distinctive rhythms by combining footsteps, chants and hand claps. Percussive dance is generally viewed as a black art form.
Promoting the event, which featured Ludicris with TLC's Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas and Monica as judges at the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center, Sprite used Facebook and other social networking sites extensively, and MTV2 would air the finals. When judges selected a chapter of the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority from the University of Arkansas as the winner on Saturday, protests began on social networking sites.
According to hiphopwired.com, "...after an all white sorority beat an all Black set of step teams for the Sprite Step-Off, Coca-Cola is announcing plans to award a second team with prize money, calling the competition a tie. Members of Alpha Kappa Alpha's Tau Chapter will be awarded $100,000 after being named co-winners with members of Zeta Tau Alpha's Epsilon Chapter. Zeta Tau Alpha's win last weekend sparked controversy after the all white team beat out six Black fraternities[sic] and six Black sororities for the top spot." Note: The sorority and fraternity competitions were separate, and the "all white sorority" is actually integrated. The on-stage team from the University of Arkansas was white.
Coca-Cola's Official Statement and Resolution
After the competition, we conducted a post-competition review and discovered a scoring discrepancy. There is no conclusive interpretation, nor definitive resolution for the discrepancy.
Sprite is committed to upholding the honesty and integrity of the competition. Because the scoring discrepancy cannot be resolved and due to the extremely narrow margin between the first and second place winning sororities, we believe that the appropriate course of action is to name both Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Tau Chapter and Zeta Tau Alpha, Epsilon Chapter, co-first place winners of the Sprite Step Off. Accordingly, we will increase Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Tau Chapter's scholarship prize to $100,000, consistent with first prize winnings.
Sprite Step Off was created for the primary purpose of awarding scholarships and supporting talented college students in their quest for higher education.