KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — New York bartenders who were involved in this month’s earlier Long Island Iced Tea Challenge are claiming the competition was rigged from the start.
According to a news release from the owner of “Hudson’s on the Mile” in New York, Visit Kingsport, the tourism entity associated with the Kingsport bartenders, possibly rigged the competition by selecting judges with ties to Kingsport and not blindfolding the judges as they had been in the previous rounds.
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The release also says the investigation is in response to the fact that there Butch Yamali, bartender and owner of Hudson’s on the Mile, has called the competition a possible fraud. He says his team was left out of location negotiations and had no say in judge selection.
Long Island bartenders say they spent tens-of-thousands of dollars of their own money to travel to Washington D.C. for the competition and are disgruntled because of what they deem favoritism during the competition.
The New York bar staff is evaluating legal avenues against the fraudulent contest and intends on sending Visit Kingsport a cease and desist letter as they claim to have won the contest.
“This was a fraud, a waste of time, and a waste of our hard-earned money. We embarked on this journey expecting fairness, but we got a rigged competition in order to deface the legacy of a good man, the true inventor of the Long Island Iced Tea, ‘Rosebud’ Butt, in the name of a cheap, false narrative from Kingsport, TN. I am calling for an investigation and will be in touch with Tennessee State Officials about their unethical conduct. We demand that Visit Kingsport apologize, and refund our hard-earned money spent while in Washington DC for this rouse. Kingsport, TN, has not heard the end of this fight — in fact, it’s just the beginning. Shameful actions done by the Visit Kingsport should be ashamed and investigated,” said Yamali.
Monday afternoon we received a written e-mail statement from Visit Kingsport regarding this story.
Visit Kingsport said the following:
“We have had a great relationship with Hudson’s on the Mile and all of their staff who have been part of this for more than a year now. When I first saw this, I honestly thought this was just their way of trying to keep the competition going, so it’s very unfortunate and disappointing if they really feel this way.” -Visit Kingsport
Judd Teague, Executive Director of Visit Kingsport, told News Channel 11 that “Hudson’s was aware of all calls and planning and agreed to arrangements about the event and location. Neither side had any input about the judge selection. The judges were chosen by the venue staff.”