Vote early and vote often.
That oft-repeated phrase may be tongue-in-cheek when it comes to normal politicking, but it’s totally valid when it comes to the AKB48 General Election, in which fans of the popular J-pop group and its affiliates lay down their hard-earned cash to propel their favorite members to victory.
The 8th annual AKB48 general election took place in Niigata, Japan this Saturday (the winner, for the second year in a row, was HKT48’s Rino Sashihara) and Buzzfeed Japan was on the scene, asking fans how much cash they spent on the election.
— BuzzFeed Japan (@BuzzFeedJapan) June 18, 2016
Amounts varied from the ¥5,000 (about $50) spent by a Tokyo-based, 33-year-old Russian fan of Mio Tomonaga (23rd place) to the ¥70,000 ($700) laid down by a 24-year old supporter of Sakura Miyawaki (6th place) to the ¥300,000 ($3,000) spent by a 42-year old booster of winner Sashihara.
But the highest-paying fan Buzzfeed was able to find in the crowd was a 34-year old fan of 7th-place finalist Akari Suda, who paid ¥1,600,000 ($16,000) to buy ballots.
In a bit of marketing genius, ballots for the AKB48 election are included in the group’s latest CD single, meaning the more copies fans by, the more times they can vote. The single this year, “Tsubasa wa iranai,” went for about ¥1,200, meaning that Akari Suda fan owns about 1,300 copies of the CD.
That’s a lot of plastic.