Samantha ‘Just Sam’ Diaz American Idol 2020 winner blows $250K and is back to singing in NYC subways. Former reality show winner parted ways with record label, Hollywood Records last year.
A former American Idol winner has returned to singing in NYC subways in a bid ‘to make ends meet,’ despite her earning a $250,000 cash price and recording contract from Hollywood Records.
Despite winning ABC’s hit singing competition series in 2020, Samantha ‘Just Sam’ Diaz, 24, who is non-binary and uses ‘they/them’ pronouns, said she went through the prize money, with the Harlem native admitting she was ‘struggling to make ends meet.’
While they initially felt ‘super embarrassed’ to announce that they were back to performing for New York City‘s public transit commuters, the singer said letting people know that they ‘legit needed the money’ was no longer ‘optional.’
Still, it has been challenging for them to navigate their feelings that they have ‘fallen so low’ since finding fame on reality television. Just Sam’s struggles include a stint in hospital to deal with an unknown illness last summer.
On Tuesday, they wrote on their Instagram Story that ‘there’s so much’ more they want to say ‘but there’s not much that’ they are ‘allowed to say.’
They continued: ‘I promise that I will say more soon very soon. For now, I will just say thank you so much to everyone who has my back.’
Sam concluded the message by thanking ‘the people who are showing me nothing but love.’
What led to record label parting and what now?
Diaz, who performed in NYC subways before auditioning for Idol in 2020, previously opened about how she ‘ended up broke’ after parting ways with Hollywood Records.
‘I am making music,’ said the performer last year, via Just Jared. ‘I just cannot afford to release music, because mixing and mastering music costs a lot of money. And I invested in myself and ended up broke. That’s the truth. Not broke, broke – like I’m living. I have my own place.’
At the time, Just Sam revealed that she left the label — which signed her in May 2020 after she won Idol — before releasing an album and owed money to the company.
‘I’m not even going to tell you guys the amount of money that I had to pay after leaving the label to claim songs that I had already recorded,’ Just Sam said. ‘I’m recording all the time or making music all the time, writing every day, doing what I have to do to survive.’
Posted Just Sam on Instagram Story after leaving Hollywood Records last year:
‘I am making music. I just cannot afford to release music, because mixing and mastering music costs a lot of money. And I invested in myself and ended up broke. That’s the truth,’
”It’s just hard because I’m coming out of pocket and I have bills to pay. And American Idol is not going to pay my bills. Lionel Richie’s not going to pay my bills. Katy Perry’s not going to pay my bills. Luke Bryan is not going to pay my bills. I have to pay my rent. I have to make sure that I’m eating every day, which is hard to do.’
Sam went on to assure fans this week that they had people ‘helping’ them and that they were going to put ‘out music when’ they can and is ‘ready.’
At the time of her 2020 American Ido win, which was at the height of the Coronavirus epidemic, Just Sam, shared that their ‘dreams’ had just ‘come true.’
Sam’s struggles are in stark comparison to the triumphs of past winners like Carrie Underwood, who has an estimated net worth of $140 million, or Kelly Clarkson, who has won three Grammy Awards and currently hosts her own self-titled talk show.
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The reality of previous American Idol winners
While many contestants like Jordin Sparks and Jennifer Hudson have gone on to become household names after competing on American Idol, not all winners have gone on to attain success outside the show.
Laine Hardy, who won in 2019 has become better known for getting arrested and charged with ‘planting listening device in ex-girlfriend’s room’ at Louisiana State University.
Meanwhile, 2003 American Idol winner, Ruben Studdard is a standout for releasing seven albums, including his platinum-selling debut, Soulful, and the top-selling gospel follow-up, I Need an Angel.
The Grammy nominee, who won the second season of American Idol, also made headlines for competing and losing 119 pounds on The Biggest Loser. The performer has also segued into television and stage work, with the artist last public performance taking place in 2018.