Iam Tongi wins ‘American Idol’

Iam Tongi is shown during a performance on 'American Idol.' (ABC/Eric McCandless) IAM TONGI

Aloha! Iam Tongi, the charming crooner originally from Hawaii, took home the 21st crown on “American Idol” Sunday night.

He drew more votes than 21-year-old Douglasville, Ga., Christian performer Megan Danielle, who came in second, and 18-year-old Mississippi country singer Colin Stough, who finished third.


Tongi, 18, now lives in Seattle because his family was “priced out of paradise,” as he told the “Idol” judges during his initial audition. His father died just a couple of months before he auditioned for the show last year.

He drew by far more Facebook views and social media likes than any of his rivals in recent weeks. His broad-based popularity made his win seem preordained.

The power of Tongi was hard to deny. “You bring the culture to ‘American Idol,’” judge Katy Perry said.

About 61% of readers polled by MJ’s Big Blog, which tracks “Idol,” believed before the finale that Tongi would win but only 47% said he should win. Only 16% thought Danielle would win but 30% said she should win.

Near the end of the finale, producers brought back a heavy dose of “Idol” nostalgia by having season 2 winner Ruben Studdard and runner-up Clay Aiken duet “The Impossible Dream,” then brought out Tongi and Danielle to sing with them.

(Tongi was not alive when Studdard and Aiken duked it out before a whopping 38 million viewers in 2003 while Danielle was an infant.)

In 2003, when people voted only by phone, 24 million votes were logged.

This year, when people could vote up to 30 times via text, app and website, the total was 17-plus million.

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What does the winner of American Idol get?

American Idol’s 2022 winner received a record deal with Hollywood Records/19 Recordings, the record label owned by Disney (ABC’s parent company), as well as $250,000, according to Distractify.

The $250,000 is paid out in two lump sums, Newsweek reported: $125,000 when they sign the record contract and $125,000 when the album is completed.

It must be done within four months.

The winner also will go on a Disney Cruise Line vacation with three guests.

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What does the second place winner of American Idol get?

The runner-up sometimes receives a prize, as well, according to Distractify.

This year, the second place winner won a Disney Cruise Line vacation with three guests.

They also could get a record deal with Hollywood Records and prize winnings at half the amount the first price winner receives.

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