Former American Idol winner Samantha ‘Just Sam’ Diaz revealed they are back to singing on subways, three years after earning a $250,000 cash prize and recording contract from Hollywood Records.

Despite their victory on ABC’s hit singing competition series, the 24-year-old Harlem native, who was hospitalized with an unknown illness last summer, informed their more than 167,000 Instagram followers that they are currently struggling to make ends meet. 

Despite initially feeling ‘super embarrassed’ to announce that they was back to performing for New York City‘s  public transit commuters, the singer, who uses ‘they’ pronouns, 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. 

Last year, the singer unexpectedly left the label without releasing any albums under them.

‘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,’ they said on their Instagram Story last year. 

Reality fame: Former American Idol winner Samantha 'Just Sam' Diaz revealed they are back to singing on subways, three years after earning a $250,000 cash prize and recording contract from Hollywood Records

Reality fame: Former American Idol winner Samantha 'Just Sam' Diaz revealed they are back to singing on subways, three years after earning a $250,000 cash prize and recording contract from Hollywood Records

 Reality fame: Former American Idol winner Samantha ‘Just Sam’ Diaz revealed they are back to singing on subways, three years after earning a $250,000 cash prize and recording contract from Hollywood Records

Trying to get by: Despite her victory on ABC's hit singing competition series, the 24-year-old singer, from Harlem, informed her more than 167,000 Instagram followers that they are currently struggling to make ends meet; seen in 2020

Trying to get by: Despite her victory on ABC's hit singing competition series, the 24-year-old singer, from Harlem, informed her more than 167,000 Instagram followers that they are currently struggling to make ends meet; seen in 2020

Trying to get by: Despite her victory on ABC’s hit singing competition series, the 24-year-old singer, from Harlem, informed her more than 167,000 Instagram followers that they are currently struggling to make ends meet; seen in 2020

The musician continued: ”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 that they had people ‘helping’ them and that they were going to put ‘out music when’ they can and is ‘ready.’ 

Their win during the remotely-filmed finale of season 18 of American Idol coincided with the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On the episode, they gushed that her ‘dreams’ had ‘come true.’ 

Sam’s struggles are in stark comparison to 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. 

While many contestants like Jordin Sparks and Jennifer Hudson have gone on to become household names after competing on American Idol, it has become glaringly obvious that winning does not guarantee success.

Who are the most and least successful winners of American Idol?  

Carrie Underwood (2005)

The 40-year-old country star was the fourth season winner of American Idol in 2005 and has moved on to have a very successful career selling more than 66 million albums worldwide and has 28 No. 1 singles to her name.

Additionally, she has won eight Grammy Awards and is happily married to Mike Fisher, who is the father of her sons Isaiah Michael, born in 2015, and Jacob Bryan, born in 2019.

Success: Carrie Underwood was the fourth season winner of American Idol in 2005 and has moved on to have a very successful career selling more than 66 million albums worldwide and has 28 No. 1 singles to her name

Success: Carrie Underwood was the fourth season winner of American Idol in 2005 and has moved on to have a very successful career selling more than 66 million albums worldwide and has 28 No. 1 singles to her name

Success: Carrie Underwood was the fourth season winner of American Idol in 2005 and has moved on to have a very successful career selling more than 66 million albums worldwide and has 28 No. 1 singles to her name

Kelly Clarkson  (2002)

Kelly Clarkson was crowned the first winner of American Idol back in 2002 and has since earned a whopping $45 million through her singing career, work as a full-time coach on The Voice, and acting gigs in films like From Justin to Kelly, That 80’s Show and Trolls World Tour.

Impressive: Kelly Clarkson was crowned the first winner of American Idol back in 2002 and has since earned a whopping $45 million over the past two decades

Impressive: Kelly Clarkson was crowned the first winner of American Idol back in 2002 and has since earned a whopping $45 million over the past two decades

Impressive: Kelly Clarkson was crowned the first winner of American Idol back in 2002 and has since earned a whopping $45 million over the past two decades

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