Samantha Diaz, better known as Just Sam, won American Idol Season 18 back in 2020, but unlike some past Idol winners, Diaz is not enjoying fame or life in the public eye. Instead, Diaz explained in a since-deleted Instagram caption that they have been busking in the subway to make ends meet.
Prior to winning Idol, Diaz would post Instagram videos singing in the New York City subways, and now they’ve taken to singing there again in order to earn money.
According to The Sun, the caption on one of Diaz’s posts mentioned feeling embarrassed over busking. Diaz reportedly wrote in the since-deleted caption, “Back in 2021, I was super embarrassed to be going back to the trains. 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.”
Diaz continued, “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. Not even knowing anything about Hollywood or the music industry. Since then, I have learned so much and I’ve been able to take my experiences and share them with other artist in hopes that they don’t experience the same things that I did when It comes to making it in this life.”
Diaz also added, “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.”
The fan response to Diaz’s post was nothing but supportive, with most praising their talent, and some criticizing American Idol for not supporting them in the time since their win.
One wrote, “I thought I was pissed at American Idol for voting off Jennifer Hudson, but I’m disgusted how they’ve treated Just Sam. She sung her heart out every time she hit the American Idol stage. Yes, she got the win but that’s about all she got was a trophy. They gave her a lame contract and walked away. Now she’s without a contract and still broke! Just Sam is a sweet young woman and deserved better from AI.”
Another fan added, “They dropped the ball with you, plain and simple.”
Diaz confirmed back in 2022 that they chose to leave their recording contract with Hollywood Records and as a result, ended up having to pay to be released from the contract and retain ownership of the songs that were already recorded but had not yet been released. In August of 2022, Diaz was hospitalized for an undisclosed illness that left them weighing just 100 pounds.
Despite the turbulence of the past few years, Diaz remained optimistic on Instagram, adding, “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.”