"After this, I hope to be able to inspire more people and reach more people all across the country and across the world," Samantha Diaz told reporters after the American Idol finale on Sunday

May 19, 2020 01:30 PM

Samantha "Just Sam" is a true star!

On Sunday, the 21-year-old New York City native and former subway singer — who was crowned the season 3 champion of American Idol  — opened up about her experience and what she plans to do with her new platform.

"It’s definitely a whirlwind for me," Diaz, 21, told reporters via phone conference after the finale. "First things first, I'm going home to my grandma and I'm going to hug her. That’s the first thing I am going to do. I hope to be able to put out music. I am going to try to do what American Idol was trying to do in the beginning and that is bring family and friends together during this time when we need each other most. We shouldn't be alone."

"After this, I hope to be able to inspire more people and reach more people all across the country and across the world," she added. "That is my plan and my hope."

Just Sam

Diaz, who made a living singing in subway trains prior to Idol, captured the hearts of America (and judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan!) from the very beginning with her kind-hearted energy, inspiring story and soulful voice.

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

Just Sam

Despite her trials and tribulations, Diaz continued to impress week after week — and learned something new about herself along the way.

"This whole competition just reminded me and showed me just how strong I am and just how much worth I have," she told reporters. "I love myself, don’t get me wrong, but I think it's easy for people to forget they're worth when things get tough. I think that's the thing that I learned about myself from this competition."

After Sunday's finale, Perry, whom Diaz referred to as "Auntie Katy" throughout the season, gave Diaz a special shoutout.

"I told @justsam.co to sing to where she wanted to go, and looks like she sang it into existence," Perry wrote on Instagram. "Congratulations on being this season’s #AmericanIdol and a HUGE virtual hug and thank you to the entire AI crew for getting us through this crazy season."

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."

"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."

Congratulations, Just Sam!