ELK GROVE (CBS13) — A popular business competition in Elk Grove has folded after it was hit with accusations of possible cheating.
“Best of Elk Grove” is an online competition that’s been around for nearly a decade. Hundreds of businesses compete for the title every year, but its organizer announced it will be ending after being threatened with legal action by a local attorney.
Elk Grove attorney Jeff Yazel is questioning the fairness of the competition in general. He says the organizer not only helps tally results but is also a participant in the contest. There are also concerns that votes are not being counted properly, which Yazel says may have happened in his client’s case.
For nine years, the online competition has brought bragging rights to it’s winning businesses.
“It’s like a tradition here in Elk Grove,” said one Elk Grove resident.
Red Door Antiques Vintage and More owner David Hipskind said, “It just kind of gives the confidence to know that you’re doing the right thing.”
The competition abruptly shut down Tuesday night. The woman who runs it announced the move on social media saying the “Best of Elk Grove” was forced to shut down after being threatened by a lawyer and his client. She has retained an attorney.
Elk Grove attorney Jonathan Stein said, “When an attorney comes at you and says they’re going to sue you and shut you down, sometimes it’s easier to agree to shut down.”
“I don’t think it’s a matter of sore loser at all,” said Yazel.
Yazel says his client had checked the numbers just before this year’s best of competition wrapped up in August and said he was winning by thousands of votes. But when the results came out, he was not the winner. Yazel says he called the competition’s organizer and requested to see the data.
“She refused. She immediately went into she was going to shut down the contest.”
On top of that, Yazel says there’s also a major conflict of interest. The organizer of the competition also owns a small graphic design business in Elk Grove and has been named “Best of” every year. He says many of her clients have won as well.
“It’s just not fair,” said Yazel.
Some Elk Grove residents agree.
True Salon and Spa stylist Veronica Agrego said, “It’s not fair for the rest of us that work really hard for the Best of Elk Grove.”
Other residents say the allegations are bringing out the worst in what’s supposed to be a fun competition and a best-of boost for businesses.
Hipskind said, “It’s like get over yourself. It’s no big deal.”
Yazel says he is not disclosing his client’s name because of the backlash that’s already taking place on social media. CBS13 also learned there are already plans in the works to start another “Best of Elk Grove” contest by another community member.