OPINION | This article contains the author's opinion.
18-year-old high school Iam Tongi of Hawaii shocked America and won ABC’s singing competition “American Idol.”
Playing the guitar and singing, Tongi repeatedly moved the judges to tears throughout the competition.
In the end, Tongi beat out finalist Megan Danielle from Georgia as America submitted its votes. Colin Stough from Mississippi was also eliminated in the finals.
You can watch his road to the finals here:
Tongi was born and raised in Kahuku, HI.
He will graduate from Decatur High School in Federal Way, Washington in June.
Judge Lionel Richie asked why Tongi left the Hawaiian Islands and he said his family had been “priced out of paradise.”
During the finals, Judge Katy Perry said, “Welcome to paradise, my friend.”
Tongi said he was looking forward to returning home before learning about his victory. His family, friends and fans showed their support at a watch party in Hauula.
Judges Richie, Perry and Luke Bryan overall gave Tongi positive reviews.
“Why am I sitting here and tearing up on a song I already know?” asked Richie earlier in the competition after Tongi performed “Making Memories of Us” by Keith Urban. “But you have a great delivery and that’s what’s going to make your career shine forevermore.”
“Katy and I have determined that we cannot look at each other, because we start crying when we look at each other,” said Bryan in response to Tongi’s performance of “Cool Down” by Kolohe Kai.