Danni Ashe vs. Cindy Margolis in Download Fight

It hasn’t escalated to the level of a Celebrity Deathmatch yet, but two of the Internet’s most downloaded women are sparring over who’s really the cyber-fairest of them all.

Danni Ashe, a nude model and founder of adult Web site “Danni’s Hard Drive,” was crowned by the Guinness Book of World Records as the “Most Downloaded Woman” in the world, dethroning Playboy actress, supermodel and now late-night show host Cindy Margolis.

“I knew all along I had more Internet fans than Cindy, but I was busy running my business and didn’t pay much attention to the hoopla,” gloated Ashe in a statement after the Guinness announcement.

But wait. Who really won — Danni or Cindy?

Guinness first bestowed the title on Margolis, who then touted it on her Web site. But then, the fickle record-keepers turned it over to Ashe after seeing research and data presented by Ashe and Alexa Research of San Francisco, a company that tracks page views and Web site popularity ratings.

This turnabout, of course, started a cat fight between the two babelicious blondes.

But now it appears there may be a happy ending for each. Guinness spokesman Neil Hayes says both of the buxom beauties won, but in different categories.

“In creating two new categories in the ‘most downloaded’ area, we are simply responding to the different ways in which new media has developed,” he said in an e-mail statement.

“In this instance, a number of issues were raised by competing claims and the comparisons between them. Most of them focused on the fact there are two inherently different kinds of Web site: subscription-based [and] free sites.”

Hayes also said Guinness has made distinctions as such in the past. For example, he said, it has “employed similar distinctions between attendance records for free and paid-for concerts, and for print runs of free and paid-for books. All we are doing in this instance is taking our existing criteria into a new medium.”

According to Guinness, Ashe had more than 240 million downloads in 1999 from Danni’s Hard Drive, a subscription site. Margolis’ people recorded 53 million downloads only using the numbers she racked up based on America Online downloads alone. (Margolis’s agents plan to resubmit additional calculations, according to Hayes.)

“It did come as a surprise,” Ashe said in a telephone interview, when asked about the change in titles. “I have more [downloads] no matter how you want to add it up.”

Neither Margolis nor her representatives returned phone calls for this story.

Millions and Millions Served

As far as Web traffic goes, Margolis’ site, Cindymargolis.com, trailed Danni’s Hard Drive by a significant margin, according to Alexa Research numbers. Cindymargolis.com boasted a little more than 2 million page views in May of 2000, vs. well over 25 million page views during the same month on Ashe’s site.

Ashe, who says she’s content with her new title, wants to be more than just the most heavily trafficked pay-for Web site. She wants to hold both records, saying that even on her free-downloads site, she got more than 120 million downloads in this past year, and around the same number on her pay-per-download site.

“The thing that really interests me is that Cindy’s numbers, the ones that have been submitted thus far, came from AOL,” Ashe said. “[And] that’s a paid subscription service too.”

Building a Name for Herself

In 1995 Ashe started out with just $8,000 worth of computer equipment and a little HTML knowledge. Now she’s the focus of articles in and The Industry Standard for the fact that she and the popularity of her site provide one of the few examples of how a Web-based business— albeit, a soft-core porn site — can be profitable.

“I’ve poured my heart into [the site],” Ashe said. “It’s gone from something in my bedroom to a large corporation with 42 people, and on the road to make $7 million this year…it’s been so incredibly gratifying.

“I think that Cindy’s career is really kind of based on this title,” she continued, “And it’s difficult for her to lose it. Right now she’s still got it, but not for much longer.”