‘American Idol’ champ Iam Tongi talks rigging accusations
Despite ending the season on a sour note, the newest “American Idol” champion isn’t bitter.
Iam Tongi, who made history as the first Pacific Islander to win “American Idol,” isn’t fazed by the rigging accusations that accompanied Sunday’s triumph — in fact, he said he “loves it.”
“A lot of people are like, ‘Colin Stough was robbed,’ or whatever. And I just love it,” Tongi, 18, told the Daily Mail.
Tongi, of Samoan and Tongan heritage, reigned victorious in the 21st season finale, beating out Stough, 18, and Megan Danielle, 20, but his win baffled fans who claimed the singing competition was “rigged.”
Instead of letting haters get to him, he throws a “like” to critics’ social media posts, explaining he just has to “let those things happen.”
“I am guilty for liking it,” he admitted. “But look, [my] music’s not for everyone. And I have to learn that the hard way.”
He inherited his optimistic outlook from his late father, Rodney, who passed away in 2021 before “Idol” auditions began.
“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,” he added. “Everyone gets their own opinion. Everyone gets to think what they think. So, it’s fine.”
The Post has reached out to Tongi for comment.
Amid the online vitriol, he maintains there’s no bad blood between him and the runners-up.
“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,” he said.
In fact, it makes Tongi “happy” that viewers enjoy different genres of music, he said, and he admires fans’ enthusiasm for Stough’s talent.
“They love Colin that much [that they say], ‘He should have won,’” Tongi said. “And that makes me happy, to be honest.”
But Tongi isn’t willing to “chase after fans” — he appreciates his fanbase and the community that continues to support him. He’s just going to be himself, do what he loves, have fun and “see whatever happens,” he added.
Following his big win, Tongi described the historic moment as “amazing” and thanked voters for the “crazy” experience.
This season was judged by Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan and Katy Perry, the last of whom was the center of backlash and controversy.
An unidentified source alleged to the Daily Mail that the “California Gurls” singer considered leaving the show after producers “threw her under the bus.”
But Tongi, who shared he had “a lot of fun” with the reality television judges, said Perry would be missed if she decided to exit.
“The support [Katy] gives and the love [she] gives to the contestants would be missed,” said Tongi, who announced he is working on new music he’s “excited to share.” “I would miss Katy [if she left].”