As American Idol fans celebrated the crowning of Samantha "Just Sam" Diaz during Sunday's live remotely-streamed finale Sunday, some noticed that host Ryan Seacrest didn't seem to be himself. At one point, he briefly slurred his words as his one eye appeared to droop lower than the other. While viewers on Twitter feared he could have suffered a stroke or neurological problem, causing the change in behavior and appearance, his representative told PEOPLE he was merely in need of rest after spreading himself thin.
"Ryan did not have any kind of stroke last night," said in a statement, adding that "like many people right now," Seacrest has been "adjusting to the new normal and finding work-home balance," all with the "added stress" of broadcasting live from home for Live with Kelly and Ryan, American Idol, On-Air with Ryan Seacrest, and the Disney Family Singalong specials.
Having been juggling all these broadcasts from home over the last several weeks, he was simply "in need of rest," Seacrest's rep said. To take care of himself, the hard-working host "took a well-deserved day off," his rep concluded, explaining his absence on Monday's episode of Live With Kelly and Ryan. He is expected to return later this week.
Before Sunday's finale, Seacrest had told PEOPLE last month how much of a challenge it has been for him to pivot to broadcasting remotely amid the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that the part-live, part-taped approach to the show has required far more planning and finesse. "Every once in a while, we have to be careful not to step on each other while we're talking because there's that delay that we've all experienced talking to our families at home on different Zooms and things like that," he explained.
The Idol finale certainly was one for the books, as the season was interrupted midway through and the contestants forced to perform from home while quarantining instead of on stage like every other season so far. Coming into Sunday's performances Louis Knight, Julia Gargano, Johnny West, Dillon James, Just Sam, Francisco Martin and Arthur Gunn were all competing for the ultimate title. Still, Just Sam's performances of "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" by Kelly Clarkson and "Rise Up" by Andra Day earned her the crown. Coming in as the runner-up was Gunn, who performed "I Don't Want to Be" by Gavin DeGraw and Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?"