LAS VEGAS - Kenny Chesney won entertainer of the year for a fourth straight time Sunday, then promptly took issue with the way the Academy of Country music awarded the honor: through fan votes.
For the first time in the show's 43 years, the top prize — traditionally decided by ACM members — was determined through online voting. With the win, Chesney ties Garth Brooks and trails only Alabama, which won five in a row.
Chesney said immediately backstage that he thought fans should be included, just not by voting for the show's most important award.
"The entertainer of the year trophy is supposed to represent heart and passion and an amazing amount of sacrifice, commitment and focus," he said. "That's the way Garth won it four times, that's the way I won it, that's the way (George) Strait won it, Reba (McEntire), Alabama all those years. That's what it's supposed to represent."
He said his complaint is directed at the industry, not the fans — and that the method amounted to "complete disrespect" of the artists, saying the academy turned the award "into a sweepstakes to see who can push people's buttons the hardest on the Internet."
Messages left for officials with the Academy of Country Music Awards were not immediately returned Sunday night.
Source w/ rest of the article (just a show recap)