Voting ends in Fighting Hunger competition

FRESNO, Calif.

The Wal-Mart campaign promised one million dollars to the city which received the most votes - or "likes" - on Facebook. The final contest came down to Fresno and Salt Lake City. A massive surge gave Salt Lake City more than a one-million vote lead. But many votes from both cities may not be counted.

Fighting hunger is a good cause...but it turned into a real fight between Fresno and Salt Lake City. It looks like Salt Lake City won, but Wal-Mart's voting rules were not clear, and with nearly ten-million votes cast it will be awhile until Facebook figures out who actually won.

The voting brought the community together. Today, residents of Fresno's Fairwinds Retirement Home joined in the balloting. "I think it's terrific, and I think everything should be going in the right direction and the right direction is this way," said Fairwinds resident John Ivers.

It's not clear if enough votes went this way. "When it comes down to actual votes that are considered legitimate, there's not four million votes in Fresno," said Reggie DeLeon, who is known on Facebook as "Jim Bean".

Reggie DeLeon was one of Fresno's biggest promoters. 186,000 votes, or "Likes" for Wal-Mart, were posted through his page. But he acknowledges many of those votes came from automated voting programs, believed to be used by supporters of Fresno and Salt Lake. Such programs, which allowed one "Like" to be multiplied a thousand times, appeared to be acceptable.

But Friday, Wal-Mart issued a clarification on its Facebook Page which reads, "Facebook is able to access the analytics behind each city and pull out unique 'Likes' per city and will choose a winner accordingly. We will be calculating the final tally only on unique Likes, which we will be capping at 3 Likes per user (Like, Share, and Comment)."

Wal-Mart says Facebook will tabulate the results and final numbers will be out next Wednesday.

"I believe Fresno is going to come out on top. I think that's pretty awesome."

Foodbank Director Andy Souza is also hoping for the best.

Friday's tally was more than 5-million for Salt Lake City and more than 4-million for Fresno. But if Wal-Mart's statement is accurate those numbers should be drastically reduced.

While the winning city gets a million dollars, the other five finishers will get $100,000 each. The enthusiasm shown by this contest has already sparked plans for community efforts to fight hunger.

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