Gary Susman
June 11, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Is ”American Idol” winner Ruben Studdard dissing the 205? On Sunday, he told his hometown newspaper, Alabama’s Birmingham News, that he’ll no longer wear the jerseys with which he sparked a fashion trend, shirts emblazoned with the city’s 205 area code. ”I will always represent the area 205, but 205 Flava is not indicative of what I am about,” he told the paper.

Back when Studdard was an ”Idol” semi-finalist, he asked 205 Flava owner Willie Jenkins if he would supply him with the extra-extra-extra large jerseys to wear on the show. Studdard’s seemingly inexhaustible collection of 205 shirts boosted sales, but Studdard and Jenkins had no formal endorsement arrangement. ”I want Ruben to be rewarded for his success via merchandise sales,” the singer’s business partner, Alvin Garrett, told the paper. ”I don’t want people to prosper if they are exploiting my friend.”

Jenkins, who said he was working on an endorsement contract with Studdard, expressed surprise at Ruben’s remarks. ”I don’t understand why this man would say what he said,” Jenkins said. ”I have been behind him 110 percent.”

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