Counting On star Jill Duggar and her husband, Derick Dillard, are certainly no strangers to online controversy. They've come under fire for a number of their social media posts in the past — like when they appealed to fans for donations to fund their mission trip — and TLC ultimately cut ties with Dillard after he made disparaging remarks on Twitter about transgender activist and reality star Jazz Jennings. Now fans are once again calling out the couple, after Jill Duggar entered her son in an Instagram contest Sunday to win a $350 prize, according to In Touch Weekly. And while the couple's latest move isn't nearly as serious, it has left many followers angry that they are using their popularity to gain an unfair advantage.
To be fair, there isn't really anything even sort of uncommon about parents entering their kids into contests on Instagram — the social media platform is full of different promotions that offer up money or prizes in exchange for likes, shares, and comments. In her latest post, mom-of-two Duggar shared a selfie with her eldest son, Israel, in which the little boy held up a book from the Tuttle Twins series, annotated with the words, "LIKE = 1 point" and "SHARE = 2 points (limit one per person)." In the caption, Duggar then wrote, "Help Israel win! Go to link in bio and share," which quickly led to many fans jumping into the comments section to call her out.
Duggar first mentioned the Tuttle Twins books on her account on March 10, when she shared a pic of the book The Tuttle Twins and the Food Truck Fiasco, and wrote,
If you’re looking for new books for the kiddos, check this series out! ... Israel grabbed another one off the shelf and asked to read it when we finished this one. [Can’t] wait to read the rest!
At the time, a number of commenters took issue with Duggar's praise of the books and their subject matter. On the Tuttle Twins series website, author Connor Boyack explained he wrote the books because "hundreds of millions of children are spoon-fed false history, bad economics, and logical fallacies," by school curriculums, and his books — which present the argument that socialism and government can have unintended dangerous consequences, while promoting what he calls "the miracle and importance of the free market" — are designed to provide an alternative view. But while Duggar's endorsement already rubbed many followers the wrong way, her follow-up contest entry seemed to only further anger her fans.
In a post on the Tuttle Twins Facebook page, fans of the books are encouraged to submit photos of their children reading the Tuttle Twins books, and then "invite [their] friends and family to help cast their votes." The photo with the most likes and shared by March 31 wins "a $350 grand prize," but parents who have entered might have been a bit disappointed to scroll through the entries and realize they're actually going up against Duggar, who currently has 1.6 million followers on Instagram alone.
In the four days since it was originally posted, Duggar's entry on the Tuttle Twins Facebook page has earned more than 700 likes, and nearly 150 shares, while most of the other entries appear to have less than 100 likes each, and on the page itself, a number of users called Duggar out for her entry, as well as with the Facebook page administrators for allowing it. One user argued that it was "completely unfair that this picture was allowed ... Shame on her for using her celebrity to win a contest with money as a prize," while another argued that "the fact that Jill Duggar is a public figure should disqualify her from this contest." Over on Duggar's Instagram page, though, the comments were even more critical: one user felt Duggar was "all about making money and using her status to make it," while another saw the contest as Duggar "trying to win money by [exploiting] her kid."
As far as the contest itself is concerned, Facebook page admins explained in follow-up comments on Duggar's entry that they "opened the contest to anyone and it is not right for us to disqualify her based on the number of followers she has." And, as another commenter wrote, it is actually pretty funny to consider that anyone would expect them to, given the subject matter of the books themselves:
Y’all, does no one else see the irony in all these complaints?! I would’ve chosen to refrain from entering if I were famous and had a large amount of followers, HOWEVER, I would NEVER expect authors of a book series based on Libertarian ideology to exclude someone because of their wealth or status.
In any case, it actually appears that Duggar might have some stiff competition: one other entry currently has more than 800 likes and 226 shares, and some have mentioned in the comments that they were specifically supporting that entry to keep Duggar from winning. Either way though, it seems that, regardless of who wins, the fact that she was willing to enter in the first place has left many of her followers pretty disappointed.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.