American Idol crowned Iam Tongi its Season 21 champion during the live finale broadcast that aired Sunday night on ABC.

Iam, an 18-year-old high school student from Kahuku, HI, won American Idol for its 2023 season and defeated runner-up finalist Megan Danielle, a 20-year-old server from Douglasville, GA.

"After the nationwide vote, the winner of American Idol 2023 is Iam Tongi. Congratulations!" American Idol host Ryan Seacrest announced at the end of the three-hour finale broadcast.

Before the final results were revealed, Iam and Megan performed their original songs -- "I'll Be Seeing You" and "Dream Girl," respectively.

And about halfway through American Idol's finale, Colin Stough, an 18-year-old Hvac technician from Amory, MS, was eliminated live in third place based on more than 13 million votes that had poured in up to that point.

Iam, Megan and Colin competed in two rounds of competition on the American Idol finale.

The first round featured the three finalists performing songs by former Idol judge Keith Urban's songbook. And Round 2 featured each finalist dedicating a song to his or her hometown.

Keith also mentored the finalists ahead of the finale.

For her first song of the evening, Megan sang "God Whispered Your Name" by Keith Urban.

Katy said the judges' job with her was done because she finally appeared happy and comfortable in this new version of herself.

And Luke gushed, "I haven't heard you make one bad vocal decision this year. I haven't heard you miss a note. And through all that, you've done it stylistically in your own way. Your voice is your own voice, and it's just very inspiring."

Iam then performed "Making Memories of Us" by Keith Urban.

Katy shared how every time Iam sings, the vibration that comes out of his mouth goes through the weeds of people's hearts and just gets to them.
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"It moves us so much. So when you sing, I am ready to feel baby!" Katy said.

Luke agreed that Iam has a natural gift from God to create emotion and to tell a story. Luke noted it was one of his favorite performances by Iam of the year.

Lionel told Iam that he has an amazing smile and infectious personality, adding how he's an incredible storyteller and teared up listening to a song he already knew.

"You have a great delivery, and that's what is going to make your career shine forever more," Lionel explained.

Colin wrapped up Round 1 with a performance of Keith's "Stupid Boy."

Luke said Colin has grown so much and he developed into his look and own artistic style. Luke said he liked it when Colin got gritty and showed tender moments, and Lionel pointed out how the women were screaming for him and the judges were very proud of him.

"Well that was tenderoni pepperoni," Katy joked. "It was so sweet, Colin!... I feel like when you were here with us in the beginning, you were at, like, 10 percent. And now, I think you're at, like, 60-70 percent."

Katy said once Colin reaches "100 percent out there in the real world" people better watch out because it's going to be "hot" and he'll need his "own air conditioning."

For Round 2, Megan dedicated "Faithfully" by Journey to her hometown of Douglasville, GA.

The three Idol judges gave Megan a standing ovation, and Lionel said this show was part of God's plan for her.

Katy felt Megan had graduated American Idol as valedictorian, and Katy called the performance "phenomenal" and said she's "exactly where she's meant to be right now."

Luke, who cried during the performance, said the end of Megan's song was one of the best things he'd seen all season. He said he was happy for her and the song was beautiful "from top to bottom."

Iam serenaded the audience with "Kolohe Kai," paying tribute to his home of Kahuku, HI.

Iam also got the judges on their feet, and Katy said, "You are the culture. You bring the culture to American Idol... Welcome to paradise, my friend."

Luke shared how listening to Iam sing island music was like being at a pig roast, and Lionel complimented Iam on his natural gift and how he's going to spread it around the world.

And finally, Colin took the stage with "Either Way" by Chris Stapleton in honor of his hometown of Amory, MS.

"You are so much better than I originally thought you were. What made me go that way is your ability... with your guitar," Luke explained. "You've got it!"

Lionel congratulated Colin on "a great job," and Katy noted how Colin's sweet spot is to sing to people like they're the only ones in the room.

American Idol's finale also featured performances by Clay Aiken, Ellie Goulding, James Blunt, Jazmine Sullivan, Jelly Roll, Keith Urban, Kevin Cronin, Kylie Minogue, Lainey Wilson, Lauren Daigle, Lil Jon, Pitbull, Ruben Studdard, TLC, and the three American Idol judges.

Idol's Season 21 contestants Lucy Love, Nutsa, Oliver Steele, Tyson Venegas, We Ani, and Zachariah Smith also took the stage in duets with the famous singers, as did Colin, Iam and Megan.

After Iam was declared American Idol's winner, he closed out the show by singing "Don't Let Go" by Spawnbreezie while confetti fell from above and the other Idol contestants hugged and congratulated him.

About The Author: Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.