The pop diva released a statement Friday confirming weeks of speculation that she won't be returning as a judge for the Fox singing show's third season. Except that, according to Spears, it wasn't the producers' decision. It was all hers.
"I've made the very difficult decision not to return for another season," a statement attributed to Spears said. "I had an incredible time doing the show and I love the other judges and I am so proud of my teens, but it's time for me to get back in the studio. Watching them all do their thing up on that stage every week made me miss performing so much! I can't wait to get back out there and do what I love most."
These words raised a few eyebrows Friday afternoon because Simon Cowell and the other producers have done nothing to stem reports that they were unhappy with Spears' lackluster judging performance this past season. "X Factor" suffered through double-digit ratings declines despite expectations that Spears' presence would boost viewership.
"It's pretty hard to quit a show you weren't being asked back to anyway," a source close to Cowell's production company said. Cowell is set to begin discussions with Fox next week about the judging talent for next season.
But a talent manager not directly connected to Spears said that her split with the producers gave her enough room to claim she quit. The decision was "mutual," the manager said.
In any event, Spears looks to be plunged into another major career overhaul. This week she left WME -- where her fiance, Jason Trawick, had been an agent -- and signed with CAA. She's working on a new album and has reportedly been in talks about headlining a Vegas show.
What do you think of Spears' exit from "X Factor" and her statement?