The “American Idol” producers knew the Season 18 finale, upended by the coronavirus pandemic, was going to be a challenge: Not only did it involve the contestants performing from their homes and the entire crew working remotely, but producers also had to coordinate a live announcement of the show’s winner in the final moments of the episode. “That’s going to be interesting,” showrunner Trish Kinane said last month. “Let’s hope the Internet gods are with us.”
The prayers to the Internet gods worked. But the conclusion of Sunday night’s show on ABC still ended in mild chaos with a shocking result, as Samantha Diaz (stage name: Just Sam), a 21-year-old subway singer from Harlem, triumphed over Dibesh Pokharel (stage name: Arthur Gunn), a 22-year-old Nepalese singer-songwriter and the front-runner of the competition.