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AOL offers voice contest

The online service says it has signed up the likes of Rosie O'Donnell and David Letterman for its "You've Got Mail" promotion.

If the folks at America Online (AOL) know the whereabouts of the guy who recorded the original "Welcome, you've got mail" greeting played millions of times a day, they're not telling.

But whoever he is, today, if he values his privacy, he is not likely to be uttering that phrase in public. While AOL has spent hundred of millions of dollars marketing its service, The Voice has achieved cult status on its own.

Now AOL is trying to cash in on the phenomenon by holding a celebrity "You've Got Mail" promotion.

AOL has lined up a bunch of celebrities and is holding a contest where members have the onerous task of trying to distinguish among the voices of celebrities such as Rosie O'Donnell, David Letterman, and Dennis Rodman. Those who guess correctly (although it's hard to imagine anyone guessing wrong) will be eligible for all sorts of prizes, including a BMW Z3 roadster.

But perhaps more noteworthy, they will be able to replace the guy whose voice has been just about the only consistent element on the service since it launched.

Just as CNN has the voice of Darth Vader, also known as James Earl Jones, AOL could be associated with any number of celebrities.

Meanwhile, for those who know and love the current voice, it will still be available.

And the man behind it?

"He's a friend of an AOL employee recorded about eight years ago before the launch of version 1.0," said AOL spokeswoman Janine Dunne.