An American Idol winner has returned to busking in subway stations just three years after taking home the top prize.
Samantha Diaz, a.k.a. Just Sam, recently posted a video of themself back to busking in a New York City subway station on social media. Just Sam was the champion of the show’s virtual 2020 season, which took place during the height of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In an Instagram video, Just Sam sings Beyoncé‘s “Listen” while holding a donation box.
“Thank you so much for listening, everyone!” they say after ending the song.
According to The Sun, Just Sam wrote they were “super embarrassed to be going back to the trains” in a since-deleted Instagram caption.
“I didn’t want people to know that I legit needed the money. I didn’t want people to know that it wasn’t optional. I was disappointed in myself for allowing myself to fall so low after winning Idol, but then I had to take it easy on me and remember that I started my journey with Idol at 20 years old,” Just Sam wrote.
Just Sam explained they were “unsure” of what would happen after winning American Idol during 2020.
“For a few months after winning, I was unsure of what was next, but I was ready and waiting for whatever it was. Everyone wants to know what happened and why this or why that & I will answer those questions someday, but In the meantime, I’ll say this. I never expected to win, but I did, I was so grateful, and I know that people are feeling like I let them down,” they shared.
Just Sam concluded by admitting they “used to feel like I let myself and everyone down too,” and that “everything happens for a reason, and I know that this too shall pass, no matter what things may look like right now.”
Just Sam won the singing competition by singing Kelly Clarkson‘s “What Doesn’t Kill You (Makes You Stronger)” and Andra Day’s “Rise Up.”
Notably, Just Sam’s season was marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, making things much more challenging than any other Idol season.
“I’m not like any other contestant that has ever had a chance to be a part of the American Idol production. My year was unlike any other. We didn’t know what to do with the win especially being that we had absolutely no help. There are people who have had more success than me, and good for them I’m happy for them, but I am not them. I don’t like my situation, but it won’t be this forever,” Just Sam explained in their since-deleted Instagram caption.
In 2022, Just Sam revealed they were broke.