April 17, 2009— -- Meet the new king of Twitter.
In the race to the 1 millionth Twitter follower, Actor Ashton Kutcher beat out cable news giant CNN early Friday morning.
Soon after hitting the 1 million mark, Kutcher tweeted to his flock of followers "Victory is ours!!!!!!!!"
The actor's Twitter account crossed 1 million followers at about 2:13 a.m. ET today, according to CNN. The news outlet said it had 998,239 followers at the time.
"This is like putting a man on the moon. This is changing media forever," Kutcher said on the streaming video site Ustream.tv just before hitting his goal. "It's the Web versus the world right now people."
The actor starting streaming video live late last night to attract followers after CNN started making appeals to its own viewers.
To celebrate the victory, Oprah invited Kutcher on her show, along with Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, ABC News' George Stephanopoulos and his wife Alexandra Wentworth, who is a co-host on Oprah's show on Friday.
As Kutcher spoke to her via Skype, Oprah welcomed "the newly crowned king of Twitter."
"It was down to the wire," she said. "But around 1 a.m. central time this morning Ashton hit the one million mark beating CNN."
"What I thought was really interesting is that in some ways this is a commentary on the state of media," Kutcher said to Oprah and her audience. "Through your own stream you can have a voice as loud as a media network."
In addition to celebrating Kutcher's victory, the queen of day time talk had a landmark moment of her own on Friday. She posted her very first tweet.
On Friday morning, she wrote: "HI TWITTERS. THANK YOU FOR A WARM WELCOM. FEELING REALLY 21st CENTURY."
Stephanopoulos was one of the very first to welcome Oprah to the Twitterati. During the show, Stephanopoulos tweeted, "Welcoming Oprah to twitter!"
He also included a few messages for his wife: "And Oprah, please take care of Ali today. Her head cold is a bear." And "Wishing my wife would follow me instead of Ashton!"
Even though Oprah has only sent out six tweets, with more than 108,00 followers, she's already got a solid start to becoming queen of Twitter.
Earlier this week, the actor of Punk'd fame and husband of actress Demi Moore announced that he would try to beat CNN to reach 1 million followers on the popular social networking site.
On Wednesday, pop star Britney Spears decided to throw her hat into the ring.
Spears' manager, Adam Leber, tweeted on her account, "Let's get Brit across the million mark! Tweet about following @britneyspears for a chance to win 2 tix to Brit's concert."
As of mid-day Friday Spears was still at 967,344 -- short of both CNN and Kutcher.
Initially, Kutcher said that if he succeeded, he would "ding dong ditch" CNN founder Ted Turner's house while shooting his next movie in Atlanta. (In other words, he'll ring the doorbell and run, if he can even get close enough to the door of the mogul's estate.)
But over the past few days, Kutcher and others upped the ante.
Prizes Galore for 1 Millionth Twitter Follower
On Tuesday night, the actor tweeted, "the 1 millionth person gets a guitar hero!" (Presumably referring to the popular video game.)
Later, he added that if he beat CNN to 1 million followers, he would buy 10,000 mosquito bed nets for World Malaria Day April 25.
He has since confirmed that he will support the cause.
Not to be outdone, a spokesperson for CNN told ABCNews.com that the company would match Kutcher's offer and will also buy the mosquito beds if it is the first to reach 1 million.
"Rather than trying to out-donate each other, we're trying to make sure that while it's a fun, engaging activity that some good can come out of it," she said.
But until this week, the CNN breaking news Twitter feed was not actually run by the cable news giant.
The spokeswoman confirmed that this week ownership was officially transferred to it from James Cox, a London technologist who started the CNN Twitter account in January 2007.
However, although CNN didn't previously outright own the Twitter account, the spokeswoman said it had been working alongside Cox for the past couple of years.
As for the Twitter race, she said it's a "healthy" challenge that is creating "socially responsible social media."
Kutcher started this Twitter race tizzy Monday when he posted a video to YouTube expressing his astonishment that he'd attracted hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers
"I just realized I have … 842,550 people that are following my Twitter feed, which is kind of scary to me now," he said. "Like I didn't realize that there were that many people following. That's kind of crazy."
Putting it in perspective for his fellow "citizens of the Inter Web," he added that CNN only had about 50,000 more followers than he does.
Amused by this distinction, he said, "If I beat CNN to 1 million followers I will literally go and ding dong ditch Ted Turner's house while I'm in Atlanta." (Kutcher will soon film "Five Killers" in the city, with Katherine Heigl and Tom Selleck.)
Before the actor signed off from his YouTube missive, he had some words for his acolytes: "To everyone who is following me on Twitter, you guys are awesome, and I just really enjoy the conversation we can have every day."
Fans, Phelps Join the Campaign
It didn't take long for his fans to respond with similar appreciation.
Soon after Kutcher posted his YouTube link to his Twitter feed, the Twittersphere was abuzz with his new challenge.
His followers started re-tweeting his post and asking others to join the campaign.
"SwissCow86" wrote: "U should ask ur followers to remove CNN from their "Following" :)"
"LaurenDayMakeup"called it the "Ding Dong Dash 2009."
"1 Million Followers Campaign Everyone PLEASE FOLLOW him! 855,472 so far! please retweet," she wrote.
Even Olympian Michael Phelps offered his support, encourging his 75,244 followers to help boost Kutcher's numbers. On Wednesday, he tweeted: "Guys, let's all help Ashton win the race to a million!"
Other celebrities, such as talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and rapper Lil' Kim, also threw their support behind the actor's campaign.
Spotting an opportunity, even video game publisher Entertainment Arts decided to jump in and sweeten the pot.
On its own Twitter account, it wrote that Kutcher's one millionth follower will get a copy of every game the company makes in 2009 and would be featured in its upcoming game, The Sims 3.