American Idol Finale: Samantha 'Just Sam' Diaz Wins Season 3

American Idol has crowned the winner for ABC's third season


Congratulations Just Sam!

On Sunday, American Idol — with longtime host Ryan Seacrest and judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan — crowned the season 3 winner during a live (and remote) virtual episode.

The Harlem native captured the hearts of America (and the judges!) from the very beginning with her kind-hearted energy and soulful voice.

"My grandmother has been saying that she doesn't believe that people like us can have their dreams come true," Just Sam, née Samantha Diaz, previously said on Idol. "This is proof to her!"

"I kept on pushing, kept on singing and look where it’s brought me," the former subway singer, 21, said. "I hope to inspire all the little girls who believe their dreams can’t come true. Anyone can do it."

American Idol
The finalists.

The show made history last month as contestants and judges broadcasted remotely amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

"We put the show together earlier in the week because there are so many factors to it," Seacrest, 45, told PEOPLE. "It’s technically not possible to do it all live obviously. Every once in a while we have to be careful not to step on each other while we're talking because there’s that delay that we’ve all experienced talking to our families at home on different Zooms and things like that."

Given the circumstances, judges were forced to adjust their tactics.

"But it's working," Seacrest added. "The contestants are getting a chance to do this in a way that we’ve never thought about before. At the end, we’ll get a winner. I think we have a real show to have someone that gets into the music world to make a name for themselves."

Katy Perry
American Idol judges. Karen Neal/ ABC

American Idol is all about fairness, so we sent everyone a kit that had same mics, the same set, the same lights,” Perry, 35, previously told PEOPLE. “It was up to the talent. They had the option to perform with their own instruments or utilize our music director from afar.”

"The disadvantages would be that they don’t get the opportunity to play off of an audience,” the mom-to-be added. “They have to look into the lens of the camera as though it is an excited audience. They don’t get to flex that muscle. There’s a lot of time delay, there’s a lot of patience that we have to practice when we’re speaking, and the reactions can’t come as off the cuff as they do in a live setting. All things considered, I would say with all the circumstances, I think we’re really proud of it."

Sunday's season 3 virtual finale, featured a star-studded lineup and impeccable performances by Academy Award nominee Cynthia Erivo, Grammy winner Lauren Daigle, Rascal Flatts and Doug Kiker.

Bryan performed his latest hit, "One Margarita," while Perry sang her new single "Daisies," crafted especially for Idol in its first-ever TV debut.

Richie performed "We Are the World" joined by Idol judges, the top 11 and members of the Idol family including Alejandro Aranda aka Scarypoolparty, Fantasia, Gabby Barrett, Jordin Sparks, Katharine McPhee, Kellie Pickler, Laine Hardy, Lauren Alaina, Phillip Phillips, Ruben Studdard and Scotty McCreery.

On Friday, ABC announced that the network renewed the original reality singing competition hosted by Ryan Seacrest for a fourth season.

Related Articles