ALBANY, Ga. -- After months of waiting, Javon Henderson of Leesburg has been named the cutest kid in Southwest Georgia and his mother Monica said she will gladly take the title as most exhausted mother in the region.
"We are definitely excited about winning, but I think I might need to rest a little bit," said Henderson.
The mother of Javon said she thinks her consistency in the competition led her son to be named the winner of the contest with more than 90,000 votes.
"Everyday I would send out text messages for people to vote for Javon," said Henderson. "We had a lot of competition in the beginning of the contest and it was neck-and-neck there for awhile but we eventually pulled through."
Henderson said The Herald's online contest page made it easy to vote for the winners and keep track of how her son was doing in the competition. Throughout the competition, which ended Oct. 13, viewers could vote for their favorite kids 20 times per day online at the newspaper's website.
As the grand prize winner, Javon and his family received a prize package valued at $1,000.
"It's a nice prize," said Henderson. "We were really excited about the savings bond we received that we could add to. It will be great for him when he starts college one day."
Albany Herald General Manager John Hetzler said the cutest kid contest marks the newspaper's first online contest and that the community response to the event was overwhelming.
"This market really responds to contests and (the response to the contest) is indicative of the market and what our readers want. The Internet opens up a lot of possibility for our newspapers and advertising," he said.
Albany Herald Online Account Executive Robin Serr said she was shocked when page views for the cutest kid contest suddenly skyrocketed.
"The day that voting began on September 16 our numbers shot through the roof," said Serr. "I started seeing a lot of networking going on with the children's families on Facebook and other sites asking for people to vote for their children."
Hetzler said the contest went "locally viral" very quickly and the The Herald hopes to see more of the same response to online contests in the future.
"We've been trying to find the right formula for years on how to successfully get people engaged in these types of contests and I think we are on the right track," said the Albany Herald General Manager. "It is such an interactive world out there now and it's incredible to see how many people were involved in this one contest."
Serr said 44 children ages 0 - 12 competed in the contest and that in addition to a grand prize winner a winner in each of the age groups received a prize package worth $250.
The Herald is currently taking submissions for its next online contest -- The Best BOO-Nanza Costume Contest. Readers can also vote online for their favorite costumes at albanyherald.com