Fans are both thrilled and distraught over “American Idol” winner Maddie Poppe‘s latest social media post, revealing that she has a new boyfriend. The news came as a shock to many followers who thought she was still in a relationship with country singer Caleb Lee Hutchinson, whom she met and fell in love with during season 16 of “Idol.”
Hutchinson came in second place behind Poppe in 2018, but the two revealed their relationship during the season finale, before the final results were announced.
“We, and the country, has fallen in love with the two of you,” host Ryan Seacrest told the two singers during the broadcast.
“Well, you know, Maddie is like my best pal,” Hutchinson replied. “I’ve known her since the beginning of Hollywood Week, and yeah. She actually happens to be my girlfriend.”
Though Poppe and Hutchinson haven’t appeared in each other’s social media posts since last year, they’d insisted in an August 2022 podcast that they were going strong and neither has ever officially confirmed a breakup.
On July 23, 2023, when Poppe posted a Polaroid photo of herself and Nashville musician Gabe Burdulis on Instagram with the caption “Happy♥️,” fans flooded the post with comments and questions, stunned that she and Hutchinson are no longer together. Here’s what you need to know:
Fans Surprised by Maddie Poppe & Caleb Lee Hutchinson Breakup
Poppe and Hutchinson appeared together on “American Idol” in May 2022, singing “Islands in the Stream” for the 20th anniversary reunion show. And on August 31, they appeared on Hutchinson’s Green Couch podcast, insisting that while they had no plans to marry, their relationship was going strong.
“Neither one of us are going anywhere,” Hutchinson said. “We’ve had the conversation. I think there’s an idea that if I don’t marry you, then you are actively searching for someone else and so am I. Like you’re either off the market or you’re on it. And I think it can be true that we are dating monogamously and not looking for anyone else.”
However, there have been signs since that the two broke up. The two no longer follow each other on social media, and when Poppe released the breakup song “Screw You a Little Bit” in March 2023, she alluded to her relationship with Hutchinson without saying his name in an interview with Iowa radio station KWAY.
“This is not about who everyone thinks it’s about,” she said. “That relationship, I still have a place in my heart, and I have nothing but love and respect on that side of things. So this is not about that person because I don’t have negative things to say about that particular person. If you are out there and if you are wondering. There you go.”
But given that most fans didn’t hear that local interview, many were stunned to see the photo of Poppe with Burdulis, a singer-songwriter and guitarist who’s toured with country artist Brittney Spencer, Brooke Eden and Michha Nelson, per his website. According to some of Poppe’s fans, he’s also been playing backup with her band on her latest tour.
A fan who saw Poppe play in Sioux City, Iowa, wrote, “I knew something was up the way you two were looking at each other during your show 😏”
Another fan who caught a show in Wisconsin wrote, “You both sang at the Mabel tainter at menomonie and I thought that you two could be a couple. 😍👏 blessings to you”
But many fans flooded Poppe’s post to express their confusion and dismay over her and Hutchinson no longer being together.
One wrote, “what chapter did i miss….😢” while another asked, “You and Caleb broke up?!”
Some expressed their sadness over the breakup, with one fan writing, “i was rooting for you & Caleb😭😭” and another commenting, “Poor Caleb, second place again?”
Meanwhile, other fans urged those disappointed by the news to keep their feelings to themselves.
“It makes me so sad to see that so many people can’t just be happy that Maddie is happy,” one person wrote. “And not just this post, but I’ve seen so many other selfish/unnecessary comments on past/recent posts, commenting on past relationship.”
Another person added, “I agree. People grow apart sometimes. They were so young when they started their relationship. I would bet what they each want now is different from what they wanted back then. The most important thing is that both Maddie and Caleb continue to evolve and are both happy.”
Maddie Poppe & Caleb Lee Hutchinson Move Forward With New Music & New Tour Dates
In addition to nurturing her new relationship, Poppe has been busily promoting her newest singles, including “Good Enough to Let You Go,” with tour dates across the U.S. “American Idol” runner-up Megan Danielle, fresh off season 21 of the show, is opening for Poppe on her summer tour
Poppe has also announced fall tour dates across the U.S. and Canada. In September and early October, she’ll be the opening act for singer-songwriter Joshua Radin and then she’ll join Backstreet Boys singer Nick Carter, opening for 14 dates on his solo “Who I Am” tour.
Meanwhile, Hutchinson has been teasing new music on his Instagram feed, including a breakup tune he shared in April called “Things to Burn.” Based on posts he’s made in recent weeks, he periodically performs around Nashville and also appeared at Colorado’s Country Jam in late June.
Though Hutchinson hasn’t said anything publicly about his breakup, he posted himself singing a new ballad on July 24, a day after Poppe’s announcement about her new boyfriend. In the caption, he said he wrote the tune “a little while back.”
“My heart can’t take much more today,” he sings. “Left me with no other choice when you told this cowboy this is where he up and rides away.”
“And I have just got myself to blame,” the song continues, “cause I thought you were my lover but you went and blew your cover and I’ll never see you the same.”