American Idol winner, Iam Tongi breaks silence for first time after ‘rigged’ backlash

Iam Tongi, the youngest male winner of “American Idol” history, gave a speech on Monday about his success on the show and how he remembered his late father.

“It’s amazing,” Tongi, 18, told TV Insider. “I was so happy everyone voted. Thank you to everyone. Now that I’m the ‘Idol’ of the 21st season, it’s crazy.”

Tongi made his comments in response to some viewers who said the competition was “rigged” in the high school senior’s favor and that his victory was the result of a “sympathy vote.”

READ ALSO: “American Idol is rigged” – Fans reacts to Iam Tongi’s victory

The Hawaiian native’s video has amassed 16 million views since his first “Idol” audition three months ago, making it the most popular video on the show’s YouTube page.

The Hawaii native revealed to judges Katy Perry, 38, Lionel Richie, 73, and Luke Bryan, 46, that he lost his father a few months before his audition due to Stage 4 kidney disease.

Tongi kept playing his late father’s guitar on the show as it went along until it broke mid-season.

“I always wanted to play my dad’s guitar,” stated Tongi. “But when it broke the first time, that was hard.”

The singer claims that his mother and Oliver Steele, another “Idol” contestant who advanced to the Top 8 and grew close to Tongi, informed him that “it wasn’t about the guitar but the voice.”

“I just started to believe my dad was going to be with me no matter what whether I used it or not,” continued Tongi. “The guitar will always remain a treasure.”

The “Idol” winner said that he plans on expanding his musical horizons.

“I don’t want to limit myself to one genre of music because I love all music,” Tongi said to the outlet. “I just want to have fun with it.”


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