LOS ANGELES - Fan favorite Mario Vazquez withdrew from “American Idol” on Sunday, and producers called in the son of a baseball Hall of Famer as backup.
Vazquez, 27, cited “personal reasons” for his withdrawal and no other details were available, Fox announced in a statement. The New York City singer, who works with emerging musical artists, had been picked by many fans and three fellow finalists as a favorite to win the competition.
Fox bumped Nikko Smith, the son of baseball great Ozzie Smith, into Vazquez’s spot because Smith got more votes than Travis Tucker when both were voted off Wednesday, the network said.
Smith, 22, of St. Louis, Mo., said in an interview before Sunday’s announcement that he wasn’t surprised to have been voted off.
“I wasn’t as disappointed as people thought I would be because I’ve made it so far,” he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I’m happy to get all that exposure. Millions and millions of people watch the show, and hopefully somebody saw me and liked what they saw.”
Now, viewers of the No. 1-rated series will get a chance to reconsider their votes as Smith and the other 11 finalists perform next Tuesday at 8 p.m. EST. The show airs live to the East Coast and is tape-delayed on the West Coast.
Vazquez is not the first to leave “Idol” unexpectedly, though few have done so willingly. Last year, George Huff was called back to Los Angeles when contestant Donnie Williams was cited for DUI. And in 2003, three contestants were dropped by Fox, two for failing to disclose arrest records and another for posing on an adult-oriented Web site.