‘American Idol’ Winner Is Singing In New York Subways

American Idol Season 20

In some shocking news, a former American Idol winner has admitted that they are singing in New York City’s subway system for money. This comes just a few years after winning the reality competition. Here is what you need to know and how fans reacted to the situation.

American Idol winner singing in New York subways

Just Sam won American Idol in 2020, beating out Arthur Gunn in the finals. They proved versatile, singing songs from everyone from Andra Day and Shawn Mendes to Cynthia Erivo and Kelly Clarkson. They actually covered Clarkson in the finals with “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You).” However, things did not go well for Sam after American Idol and now they are back to where they started before appearing on the show.

On Monday, Just Sam (real name, Samantha Diaz) posted a video of their singing in the New York City subway for people waiting for trains. Sam admitted that they went broke after winning American Idol and are just doing what they can now to make ends meet. Sam wore Army fatigue pants and a jacket over a t-shirt.

Just Sam on American Idol / YouTube


With Sam in the tunnel was a small sound system, a water bottle, and a donation box. In the post, Sam recounted a story that they told before. They won American Idol when they were 20. However, they had no support system in place to help them make their debut album or find any success after winning on the reality TV show.

Just Sam’s story was always a precautionary tale for American Idol hopefuls. They were 20 when competing on the show and used their nickname instead of Samantha Diaz. Sam picked up the moniker when kids in high school bullied them based on how they dressed.

Sam grew up in poverty after their mother was arrested and their grandmother adopted them. Before ever appearing on American Idol, Sam made a living singing in New York subway trains.

Just Sam couldn’t make their Idol dreams a reality

After the show, Sam felt they had a chance to finally make a career of singing. Unfortunately, they were not prepared for what that entailed. When Sam signed with Hollywood Records, they realized it took money to make an album. Plus, they were expected to come up with this money. There was no way this could happen, so Sam left with no music recorded after winning American Idol.

Just Sam IG

While Just Sam never got their album released after winning American Idol, the runner-up, Arthur Gunn, released a seven-track album called Self-Titled after his stint on Idol. He has also found success on YouTube, with 522,000 subscribers to his channel. Just Sam also has a YouTube channel, but only has 14,400 subscribers and hasn’t released anything on it in over a year.

While American Idol fans feel terrible for Sam, it seems like they are not down on themselves. “There are people who have had more success than me and good for them I’m happy for them, but I am not them,” Sam wrote in their Instagram post. “The cards in my hands don’t look like anyone else’s which is fine because I have GOD. I don’t like my situation, but it won’t be this forever.”

What are your thoughts about Just Sam singing in subways again just three years after winning American Idol? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Shawn Lealos
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