After a week of epic battle, Ashton Kutcher has beaten CNN Breaking News to the top of the Twitter heap, becoming the first Twitter user ever to reach 1,000,000 followers. Chock one up for the little guy? What’s really interesting though – at least relative to this blog – is whether his pledge to donate 10,000 anti-Malaria bed nets for World Malaria Day if he won had any impact on the results?


The contest started about a week ago, with Kutcher boasting that he could beat CNN to 1,000,000 followers, despite being tens of thousands of followers behind the cable network (not to mention about 50,000 behind Britney Spears). Larry King accepted the challenge and the battle royale began.


Kutcher pulled out all the stops on his path do victory, including getting video game maker Electronic Arts to put up a variety of prizes for the 1,000,000th follower, such as having that user immortalized as a character in their next edition of the Sims. When that was seen as tacky by some, however, Kutcher tried a different tactic and pledged to donate 10,000 anti-Malaria bed nets as part of World Malaria Day later this month. For good measure, he pledged to donate 1,000 either way. CNN quickly followed suit.


This morning at 2:13 am, Kutcher officially became the first Twitter user with 1,000,000 followers, with CNN only a couple thousand behind. Then the coolest thing happened: Ashton started mobilizing his celebrity community. In the last hour alone, he’s got his wife Demi Moore, Oprah, Ryan Seacrest, CNN to donate between 10,000 and 20,000 nets. It looks like P. Diddy might be next. If that’s not community mobilization, I don’t know what is.


It’s easy to be cynical about this, but what if we thought about it different. Changing the world is hard, and the responsibility we owe this planet and the billions of people we share it with should never be taken lightly. But there are lots of incredibly easy ways that even normal folks can save lives, and we should never let the difficult of the big picture stop us from making incremental change along the way.