Top five contestant Caleb Kennedy left the show following the surfacing of a KKK-themed video that he was in, according to TMZ. Kennedy said that the video was filmed when he was 12 years old and he apologized for the video in an Instagram post announcing his exit from the show.
Fan-favorite contestant Benson Boone also quit the show following making it through to the top 24. He never appeared during the live shows portion.
Then, top-24 contestant Wyatt Pike exited “American Idol” due to personal reasons.
Bones Encouraged Pike to Return to ‘American Idol’
In-house mentor Bobby Bones spoke with Us Weekly about some of those exits and talked about which contestants he thinks should return for the upcoming season. He said Pike was definitely welcome to return.
“I don’t think any of us saw Wyatt leaving until it was time for him to go,” Bones said. “I haven’t spoken to Wyatt since he left, but sure. If he wants to come back, we’d love to have him come back again.”
He later added, “You know, he’s so good that maybe he doesn’t have to come back. Maybe he goes in and decides to pursue it and maybe get a record deal. Who knows? I root for him.”
Bones explained that people exit the show every season for personal reasons because contestants often have personal reasons or contractual reasons they need to leave.
“If he wants to come back next season, we’d love to have him,” he explained.
The New ‘American Idol’ Rules Allow More Former Contestants to Audition
Following season 19 of “American Idol,” ABC released a new contract for people auditioning for the upcoming season that had a pretty big rule change.
Contestants must still be between the ages of 15 and 29 during their time on the show, and they must not be contractually obligated to not compete through any record deal, according to the eligibility page.
The significant change, however, was in the form of contestants that are able to return to compete. Now, any contestant who fulfils all the other categories and was not previously a winner of “American Idol”
According to the 2021 eligibility rules, “You are ineligible to participate in the Program if you competed in any previous season of ‘American Idol’ and placed first in the competition.”
That means that any contestant who did not previously win “American Idol” is welcome to audition and try again.
This could be a big change for the franchise, which tried a new “comeback” twist on season 19, much to a lot of fans’ dismay. That twist led to Arthur Gunn, the season 18 runner-up, winning his way back onto the show. The contestant got voted off the following episode, and Gunn ultimately cut ties with “American Idol” and was a no-show for the finale performance he was scheduled for.