Shocking 'American Idol' News: Mario Vazquez-Out, Nikko Smith-In

“American Idol” will showcase its Final 12 contestants on Tuesday (March 15) but it will be a different group than viewers were shown last Wednesday night. In a shocking move, Nikko Smith will replace Mario Vazquez who withdrew from the popular FOX show.

Vazquez did not offer any explanation beyond “personal reasons.” FOX announced on Sunday (March 13) that Vazquez would no longer be competing on “Idol.” The 27-year-old New Yorker resident charmed views with his smooth dancing moves and a pure voice. Before withdrawing he had been one of the favorites to win it all.

An offshore betting group recently set of odds that had Vazquez as a third betting choice, behind only Anwar Robinson and Bo Bice.

Smith, son of Cardinals and Padres great Ozzie Smith, takes Vazquez’s place in the Top 12. Many viewers had assumed Smith would have been in the final 12 before his unexpected departure last week. After strong renditions of “Georgia on my Mind” and “Let’s Get It On” in the previous two weeks, Smith had been considered another of the competition’s favorites.