The "American Idol"-like competition, in its third year, was open to the QSR's more than 1.7 million employees worldwide. The 12 finalists (this year, from 11 countries) were chosen in December from among more than 10,000 entries, based on more than 600,000 online consumer votes and judging by music industry professionals.
On April 19, the finalists competed live in front of the approximately 15,000 convention attendees -- in a full-scale production event hosted by Jill Wagner of ABC's "Wipe Out" TV show -- to narrow the field down to three. That event, as well as the final competition event on April 22 (10 a.m. EST), are being live-stream Webcast to registrants (at http://video.webcasts.com/events/mcdo001/34338), with no viewing/download availability thereafter.
McDonald's has been using Twitter and Facebook, along with professionally produced videos and streams of information about the contestants, to feed the voting and general interactivity. The first competition, in 2006, drew about 46,000 votes.
The overall winner will receive $25,000, a photo op with Elton John, and other prizes. Second- and third-prize winners will receive $10,000 and $5,000, respectively, and all other finalists will be awarded $1,500. All finalists also receive $500 for their restaurants and a $1,000 donation in their names for their local Ronald McDonald House Charities or other children's charity.--Karlene Lukovitz