Spoiler alert: This article contains the name of the winner of Sunday night’s American Idol finale.
Fans of American Idol have taken to Instagram and expressed their anger regarding who took home the crown as the overall winner of Season 18. After a season of twists and turns where several fan favorites exited the competition early and production was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was down to Just Sam and Arthur Gunn as the final two performers.
As Ryan Seacrest announced the winner as Just Sam, 21, she appeared shocked. Just Sam shook her head in disbelief as she celebrated her win alone, holding an iPad where her grandmother was seen on a video call.
“My dreams have come true… I would have never ever, ever expected this,” the former New York City subway singer said after learning she became the seventh woman to win the competition in the show’s history.
She sealed the deal after a strong delivery of two songs, original Idol winner Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” and Andra Day’s “Rise Up.”
Arthur, 22, was also a force to be reckoned with after he earned praise from the judges following his performances of Gavin DeGraw’s “I Don’t Want to Be” and a rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain.”
Following the announcement of the winner on social media, fans quickly expressed their anger at the decision, sharing their frustration in the comments section of a post which featured a photo of Just Sam that proclaimed her as Season 18’s champion.
“Arthur Gunn was the undeniable winner, just like Alejandro Aranda won last year. That’s why no one remembers the guy’s name who won last year, they will forget her name also. Arthur Gunn, you will remember,” remarked one frustrated viewer.
“Worst winner ever, sorry. She’s talented but there are at least ten people better than her. After this and Laine somehow beating Alejandro last year I’m done watching this show. It seems rigged and unfair,” said a second fan.
“My least favorite part of every season is when people hate on the winner just because their favorite doesn’t win. Like can’t everyone just be happy for the winner AND the rest of the contestants??” wondered a third viewer.
This season of American Idol was challenging for both the performers and the series, who quickly had to shift from the usual high production values of the show, normally executed on a big stage in Hollywood with a live band, backing singers, and in front of a studio audience to an at-home, pandemic version of the show. For the past several weeks, performers sang along with backing tracks and attempted to create excitement from their homes as they sheltered in place. Judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan provided both praise and critiques, and original series host Ryan Seacrest shared commentary and moved the production along via video chat.