Colin Stough may have placed third on Season 21 of “American Idol,” but the 18-year-old country crooner just won a different coveted prize. After a grueling day of travel following the three-hour season finale, which aired live on May 21, 2023, Stough arrived in his home state of Mississippi to news that he’d just won the chance to fly to New York City and perform on “Live With Kelly and Mark.”
But the teen jumped the gun in telling his fans the good news and his video was quickly deleted. An official announcement is expected on May 24, and means each of the Top 3 contestants gets to appear on the national morning show. Here’s what you need to know:
Colin Stough Revealed He’d Won ‘Encore’ Competition Before It Was Officially Announced
After Iam Tongi was crowned the winner of Season 21, “American Idol” fans had one day to vote for an “encore” performance from one of six finalists — Stough, Haven Madison, Oliver Steele, Warren Peay, We Ani, or Zachariah Smith. The finalist with the most votes would be granted a trip to New York to appear on “Live With Kelly and Mark,” the nation’s top daytime talk show according to Deadline.
The finalists all campaigned for the spot, asking fans on social media to vote for them. The morning show’s website said hosts Kelly Ripa and her husband Mark Consuelos, who recently replaced “Idol” host Ryan Seacrest as her co-star, would reveal the winner on their show the morning of May 24 and welcome them to the show on Tuesday, May 30.
But as soon as Stough learned he’d won, he uploaded a selfie video midday on May 23 to his Instagram Stories to thank his fans. It was quickly deleted, likely because the news was not meant to be made public yet, but it was seen by Heavy and several of the fans in a Facebook fan group devoted to Stough. Multiple people in the fan group, which has 14,000 members, said they’d voted throughout the day for Stough since there had been no limit on how many votes a person could submit.
For instance, upon hearing that Stough had won the “encore performance” contest, one fan wrote, “Awesome !! I voted and voted and voted over and over and over ! Congratulations!!”
In his Instagram video, Stough said he was exhausted after traveling for 24 hours from Los Angeles to his small town of Gattman, Mississippi, which has a population of 79. But as soon as he got home, he learned that he had won the contest and would soon be heading to New York.
“I got the call!” he said excitedly, joking that he’d have to work on his thick southern accent, which his “Idol” castmates teased him about in a segment that aired during the finale. He also said that he didn’t realize he had enough fans willing to vote for him to get to New York. He thanked everyone and then said he was so tired, he needed to go straight to bed.
During his “Live” appearance on May 30, Stough will perform his new single, “I Still Talk to Jesus,” which was released on May 19 along with singles by the other Season 21 contestants who made it to the Top 5.
His first song made an instant impact on country music fans. The day after its release, Stough posted a screenshot of the iTunes Top 100 Country Tunes on social media and wrote, “Man what can I say I am beyond bless to be able to wake up and have a song at #5 on the country I tunes charts thank you all so much ❤️”
During his hometown visit on May 16, Stough told local station WLOX that regardless where he landed in the competition, he’d already gained so much from the experience.
“It’s definitely made me a lot smarter about the music industry, and it’s definitely made me a lot smarter about life,” he said. “It’s taught me awesome lessons and I’ve got to meet people that I’ll cherish forever.”
Colin Stough Will Follow Iam Tongi and Megan Danielle’s Appearances on ‘Live With Kelly & Mark’
When Stough appears on “Live With Kelly and Mark,” he’ll be the third member of the “American Idol” Top 3 to perform on “Live” since the Season 21 finale. Following a May 23 appearance with runner-up Megan Danielle on “Good Morning America,” winner Iam Tongi was a guest on “Live” and performed his new single, “I’ll Be Seeing You.” Danielle is scheduled to perform her single, “Dream Girl,” on the show on May 25, according to TV Insider.
During his chat with the Ripa and Consuelos, Tongi said it still hadn’t sunk in yet that he was the winner. When he heard Seacrest say his name during the finale, Tongi recalled, “It was weird … it felt like, you know, practically like we were rehearsing or something.”
Closing his eyes and taking a breath, he continued, “I was just preparing myself in that moment … for whatever happens … no matter what happens. You know, I’m happy for Megan. If she won, I’d be happy for her.”
Tongi, Danielle, and Stough all became friends behind the scenes of “Idol.” On the red carpet after the finale, Tongi told entertainment reporter Dean McCarthy that his newfound friendships were what he’d cherish most from the whole experience.
“Winning is a plus but, I mean, I always say this, but it’s the friends, lifelong friends,” he said, and then joked, “And Colin? I’ll always bug him, call him, irritate him. And Megan, always gonna be irritating her, for the rest of their (lives)!”