Iam Tongi Says His Brother Voted for Zachariah — Not Him — to Win ‘American Idol’
The nation crowned its newest American Idol on Sunday (May 21). Iam Tongi was the last one standing as the confetti fell, and as America stood and cheered for him, no one was cheering louder than his family.
According to Tongi, his kin were happy to cheer all of the contestants on — not just him.
"It's crazy, all my Polynesian people out there just ... they're always supporting, and when they come, they show out," the new winner explains to People.
"They just cheer for everyone. Honestly, they cheer for everyone," he adds. "They don't only cheer for me. My brother voted for Zachariah [Smith]!"
Nothing like your own brother casting a vote for someone else to help you keep your head on straight. Tongi says his humility throughout the season was fueled by his family, but also his friends and fellow competitors.
"Honestly, if it wasn't for these guys and all my family and our friends, I would ... I don't know if I would stay humble because these guys taught me every day that I'm useless — I'm just kidding," he jokes. "Honestly, we laugh a lot."
Tongi continued with the jokes when asked how he'll celebrate the win: The 18-year-old couldn't keep a straight face when he said he was going to have "a couple drinks."
"No, I'm just kidding," he says, before clarifying. "What I'm gonna do when I celebrate is I'm gonna go home and just spend time with my family."
Per tradition, Tongi and his fellow finalists each released their first single ahead of the American Idol finale. Although he didn't write "I'll Be Seeing You," it's a song that resonated deeply with Tongi. The lyrics remind him of his father, Rodney, who died just months before he auditioned for the show.