‘American Idol’ Winner Just Sam Admits The Judges Became ‘Family’ While She Missed Her Grandma

After being named the winner of 'American Idol,' Just Sam opened up about her close bond with the judges, what she plans to do next and much more!

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Just Sam won season 18 of American Idol during the show’s virtual finale on May 17. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Sam couldn’t be with her closest family member, her grandmother, during the big reveal. However, her grandma was with her via FaceTime, and they shared such a special moment as viewers watched around the world. Sam spoke to HollywoodLife and other media outlets after the finale, and admitted that it’s been hard to not be with her grandmother over the last several weeks. However, she said she’s been lucky enough to find a sense of family thanks to the American Idol judges, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie.

“Just having the love from each and every one of the judges throughout this entire competition has helped me,” Sam said. “Lionel, Luke and Katy have told me that I’m their family. They made me feel like their child, literally. [My grandmother] couldn’t be there with me in Hawaii, and she couldn’t be there for me now, during this time, and just knowing that I had them, their love and support, it meant so much. Each and every one of them genuinely cared about me.”

However, from Sam’s very first audition, the judges made her feel like she belonged. When Sam tried out for Idolshe got extremely emotional, and the judges helped her through it. Looking back on the entire season, Sam admitted that that was the moment she’ll remember most.

“They allowed me to grab their hands and they repeated a prayer,” Sam explained. “I feel like that moment will always stick with me because I am a child of God and to be here is because of God, and to have one of my biggest moments being with Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan, and they were praying with me? I said, “This is going to be something to remember forever.’ I’ll never forget that moment. That was the moment where they welcomed me into their family. I can never forget that day.”

Of course, since then, Sam had many memorable performances on the Idol stage, and viewers fell in love with her week after week, which helped her get voted as the show’s winner. Now, she’s looking forward to giving back to her grandmother, who adopted her when she was just a child and her parents couldn’t care for her. “This is more than a dream come true,” she gushed. “I am so grateful to have given this gift to my grandmother. I never want her to cry again about money.”

Now that the competition is over, Sam’s first order of business is getting home to her grandmother, but after that, she hopes to put out music for her fans. “I am going to do what American Idol was trying to do in this time, and that is spread light and love and bring family and friends together during this time when we need each other most and we shouldn’t be alone,” she said. “I hope to be able to inspire more people and reach more people all across the country and across the world. That is my plan and my hope for what is next.”

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