American Idol Winner Claps Back Over Claims He Only Won After The Show Was 'Rigged'

 Iam Tongi on American Idol
Iam Tongi on American Idol

A new American Idol has been crowned after a season filled with famous faces and absolutely emotional auditions. The person who ultimately took home the crown was none other than Iam Tongi, the Hawaiian teen who captured a number of viewers’ hearts. Though he developed a solid following during his tenure on Season 21, there are some people who take issue with his win. In fact, some viewers have even gone as far as to say that his victory proves the show is “rigged.” Now, as the backlash continues, Tongi himself is (respectfully) clapping back at the accusations.

During finale night, the 18-year-old was chosen over now-third-place winner Colin Stough and runner-up Megan Danielle, who both appeared happy for his fellow competitor. Stough’s fans, on the other hand, remained adamant that he should’ve been awarded the title. Via social media posts, some argued that Iam Tongi won as a result of sympathy from the judges. These are very pointed accusations, but Tongi himself doesn’t seem to mind the blowback:

A lot of people are like, ‘Colin Stough was robbed,’ or whatever. And I just love it.' … My dad always told me that your music's not meant for everyone. There's going to be people that are not going to like it and that's OK, that's normal. Everyone gets their own opinion. Everyone gets to think what they think. So, it's fine. I just like [them], whatever what they say, 'cause you know, [I gotta] let those things happen. I am guilty for liking it. But look, [my] music's not for everyone. And I have to learn that the hard way.

That’s a fairly diplomatic way to look at the situation, given the circumstances. It is indeed true that the Hawaii native moved the judges with his story and audition. At that time, the singer got particularly emotional while discussing his late father, Rodney, who sparked his love for music. While these details are notable, they aren’t exactly enough to justify the notion that he was shown favoritism when it came time for the winner to be determined. Despite the hate though, the American Idol winner has nothing but love to spread, it seems, and he had some kind words for the second-place winner, while speaking with

I love Colin man, he's such a kind guy. I'm going to see him again, we are going to jam out again and have fun. But yeah ... it makes me happy to see that people love other styles of music as much as I do. They love Colin that much [that they say], ‘He should have won.’ And that makes me happy, to be honest. … I love [my] community coming out and supporting me and showing up [for me], and I'm not going to really chase after fans. I'm going to be myself and do what I love and just have fun while I'm doing it and see whatever happens, happens.

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As for this ongoing debate of the latest American Idol winner, know that this isn’t the first time fans haven’t been happy with how the show has played out. Former judge Paula Abdul can still remember fans being pissed after Jennifer Hudson was eliminated from the show during its third season in 2004. The tension surrounding that decision eventually subsided (for the most part), and it’s likely that’ll be the case Iam Tongi’s win as well. Regardless of the outcome though, it seems clear that he’s only focused on his future, which is sure to be watched with great interest.

Anyone who’d like to see his journey on the show can do so by grabbing a Hulu subscription and streaming American Idol Season 21 now. And those who are currently looking for other reality competition shows to fill the void should take a look at the 2023 TV schedule.