‘American Idol’ finale shocked everyone — including the winner 

 April 30, 2020

Just Sam was announced as the winner of “American Idol” in the season finale as runner-up. The producers of “American Idol” knew the finale in the corona pandemic was going to be a challenge. The entire crew was working remotely, and the contestants were performing from their homes. In the final moments of the episode, producers also had to coordinate for a live announcement of the show’s winner. 

The showrunner Trish Kinane told last month that it will be exciting and just hope the Internet gods will be with them. The prayers worked, and the season finale gave the results. The conclusion of the show on ABC ended in mild chaos on Sunday night with a shocking result.

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Names announced at the time of results were not proper as the Samantha Diaz, whose stage name was Just Sam. She is a 21-year-old, and a subway singer from Harlem won over Dibesh Pokharel, whose stage name was Arthur Gunn. He is a 22-year-old and a Nepalese singer-songwriter and the front-runner of the competition.

Everything was almost predictable at first. In the Top 5, Gunn and Just Sam were named Jonny Webb, a piano teacher, Francisco Martin, a college student, and Dillon James, who was a construction worker. Two songs were performed by each finalist, while the viewers voted live for their favorites. The latest singles were sung by Judges Luke Bryan and Katy Perry. Cynthia Erivo joined for an Aretha Franklin tribute in the Top 11 contestants. 

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Then, host Ryan Seacrest came back on screen when about 12 minutes were left and read a plug for the Nat-Geo series, which was noticeably slower and a bit slurred. It was weird for the host who has handled hundreds of live T.V. moments. His right eye al looked swollen resulted in a flood of concerned viewers to ask if he was okay on social media.

Seacrest said: We have the final two results. Who will be your next American Idol? He smiled as he looked around his room and continued, Normally I’d say ‘Dim the lights, here we go,’ but … we can’t.”

Ryan Seacrest during a Live Show
Ryan Seacrest during a Live Show

The broadcast immediately went out as Seacrest first announced Gunn as one of the finalists. The cameras returned and showed Gunn’s family jumping and celebrating excitedly that it felt like they thought he won at their house in Witchita, Kan. Seacrest called out, “Arthur! Arthur!” trying to get his attention, but it did not work.

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Seacrest announced Just Sam as the next finalist who looked the most stunned of anyone. The young singer was alone in Los Angeles from March when “Idol” filming shut down. She lived with her grandmother and did not want to risk getting her sick; therefore, she couldn’t travel back to Harlem. Judge Lionel Richie’s jaw literally dropped while the other judges applauded.

Seacrest said goodbye and gave good wishes to Francisco, Dillon, and J.W. Guys and watched the T.V. with the other three finalists waving farewell, leading to an awkward silence.

All predictions pointed to Gunn as the winner, especially with the elimination of Webb. In the final episodes, she had picked up serious momentum, and Bryan confidently signs Martin as the winner from his first audition. 

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Judges referred Just Sam to be “a little girl” and adored her very much. They keep on complementing her vocal skills, and Perry told her that she never has to go back to subway singing unless she wants to go by herself. They continued praising her, saying she nailed every aspect of “Idol” and checked every element of being an idol, and she is a star.

Bryan gushed and asked Gunn about moving from Nepal to America to pursue his singing dreams. He added, saying if there are any more like her in Kathmandu, please call and tell them to come out next year.

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And then, Seacrest declared Just Sam to be the winner for American Idol 2020.

The music kicked in of classic “Idol” theme as Just Sam once again looked totally floored. She screamed, “What?” over and over. She clutched an iPad that viewed video of her grandmother, and she was also screaming. This was contrasted with the slightly confusing yet sweet scene of Gunn’s family. They were dancing and holding up champagne bottles.

On the “Idol” finale, Ryan Seacrest talks to Just Sam, and she continued to shake her head in disbelief holding her iPad. The audio went out once more at that moment. She was still in shock, and it kicked back in repeating, “Oh my God, Oh my God.” Seacrest asked Sam about her grandmother, but she was too excited to speak. This led to brief shots of the judges and showed a standing ovation by Richie. Bryan was slowly clapping while looking off-screen, and Perry was laughing while starting to disconnect her microphone pack.

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As the camera turned back to Just Sam and Seacrest, She asked can she thank America now. As Sam tried to process her victory, she was at a loss for words. During the season, she talked about how her grandmother didn’t “believe that people like us can have our dreams come true and growing up in the projects. And now, they thanked America for their love, think, and voting her. Sam was congratulated by Seacrest, and her celebration abruptly ended as the next show needs to be streamed.

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