American Idol Crowns a Winner After Turbulent Season 19

After a rocky season 19, American Idol picked its latest winner during the finale on May 23. Find out whether the title belongs to Chayce Beckham, Grace Kinstler or Willie Spence.

By Ryan Gajewski May 24, 2021 3:14 AMTags

American Idol's bumpy season 19 is now in the books, as the show named a new winner during its latest finale. 

The ABC singing series had three remaining contestants—Chayce BeckhamGrace Kinstler and Willie Spence—heading into the three-hour episode on Sunday, May 23. Grace landed in third place and said goodbye midway through the finale. 

In the end, Ryan Seacrest announced that Chayce bested Willie as the winner, and the 24-year-old country singer closed out the show by performing his single, "23." Chayce added just following the performance, "Thank you guys so much." 

After Grace's departure, judge Lionel Richie tweeted, "@GraceKinstler we are sad to see your #AmericanIdol journey end, but we have every faith that this is only the beginning!"

The evening included a star-studded list of performers to celebrate the completion of another season. Those included Alessia Cara, Luke Combs, Mickey Guyton, Sheryl Crow, Macklemore, Fall Out Boy, Chaka Khan, Leona Lewis and rock legend Lindsey Buckingham.

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American Idol: Where Are They Now?

The lively finale also featured ever-chameleonic judge Katy Perry rocking an eye-catching new hairstyle.

One artist who was noticeably absent from the finale was Arthur Gunn, who was slated to perform with Sheryl Crow. However, when it came time to hit the stage, Arthur was replaced by contestant Graham DeFranco. As for the sudden change, a source tells E! News, "Arthur decided at the last minute that he did not want to perform, and Graham stepped in."

After the finale aired, the show's Twitter account posted a sweet selfie showing Ryan and the judges posing with an elated Chayce, which can be seen above. 

This American Idol season dealt with a number of challenging moments, such as Caleb Kennedy announcing on May 16 he was stepping down from the competition after making it to the Top 5. His exit followed backlash from an offensive video that had surfaced online.

Eric McCandless/ABC

Other tough moments included Wyatt Pike leaving for "personal reasons" after making the Top 20, judge Luke Bryan taking time away after testing positive for COVID-19 and contestant Funke Lagoke collapsing onstage

Last year's finale featured Just Sam topping Arthur Gunn as the season 18 winner. 

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