updated 11/10/2008 AT 6:00 PM ET
•originally published 11/11/2008 AT 7:00 AM ET
Toby Keith’s new album, That Don’t Make Me a Bad Guy, debuted at No. 1 on the country charts last week and he was named the top-earning country star by Forbes this year. But the singer says he still gets no respect from the country music industry.
And so, on Wednesday, he will once again skip the Country Music Association Awards.
“I know everybody is going to say it’s sour grapes, but I don’t care – it’s not,” the singer tells PEOPLE. “I haven’t been to a CMA Awards show in four years. They screwed me ‘till I finally saw the light.”
Keith has been nominated for 27 CMAs, but has won only two – one for video of the year in 2005 and one for male vocalist of the year in 2001. After going away empty-handed in 2003 and 2004 – despite receiving a total of 13 nominations – Keith told reporters he was done with the show and accused the CMA of playing politics.
As further evidence of his beef with the CMA, Keith notes that other fan favorites, such as Rascal Flatts and Tim McGraw, were also shut out this year. (Flatts did receive one nomination, for vocal group.)
“You do your own math on that and figure out what you think about that show,” Keith says.
CMA spokesman Scott Stem wouldn’t comment directly on Keith’s criticisms but did say, “We love Toby, we love Rascal Flatts and we love Tim. They are all superstars.”
Still, Keith, who is estimated to have raked in $48 million last year (putting him just behind the Police and Beyoncé Knowles on the Forbes list of all music stars), says he’ll take his rich-list billing over an industry award any day.
“That’s the one I want to win,” he says. “I want to be the Mac Daddy of Forbes!”
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