Why did one of American Idol's most promising contestants drop out of the competition? During Monday night's live episode — the first live episode of the season — host Ryan Seacrest revealed that Wyatt Pike, who made it to the Top 16 round of the competition, dropped out. However, Seacrest did not explain what led to Pike's departure, leaving fans to speculate about the situation on social media.
Seacrest took a concise amount of time during the broadcast to let viewers know that Pike had dropped out of the competition. He said, "Before we get to the results, I have to tell you that finalist Wyatt Pike will not be competing in the competition. He had to drop out, but we wish him the very best." The host did not provide any other details about the situation. Although, numerous fans on Twitter have been speculating that Pike's exit may have something to do with the COVID-19 pandemic. Several users claimed on the social media site that Pike had to drop out as he left Los Angeles in order to return to his home in Utah, which would go against the show's COVID-19 protocols. To add another layer to this American Idol mystery, Pike's most recent Instagram post shows that he did appear to make a return to Park City, Utah. He wrote, alongside photos of the landscape and his car, "Something to feel this through: home. Thankful for the rollercoaster I'm on today."
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It should be noted that there has been no confirmation that Pike's exit has to do with a possible violation of COVID-19 safety protocols, as this is simply speculation. Pike's departure comes on the heels of the news that judge Luke Bryan would be taking a step back from American Idol's live shows after testing positive for COVID-19. Bryan wrote on both his Instagram Story and Twitter that he would not be taking part in Monday's live show, writing, "I'm sad to say I won't be a part of tonight's first live American Idol show. I tested positive for COVID but I'm doing well and look forward to being back at it soon."
In his place, American Idol tapped Paula Abdul, who was one of the original judges on the series when it aired on Fox, to fill in. The show stated on social media about the change in plans, "We're so excited to announce @paulaabdul will be stepping in as a guest judge to join Lionel Richie and Katy Perry as we get closer to crowning a new winner!" You can watch Abdul return to the judges' panel on American Idol via FuboTV or Hulu via Live TV. American Idol airs on Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.