'American Idol' Winner Says They're 'Broke'

Winning American Idol wasn't all it was cracked up to be to 2020's winner Samantha Diaz, who goes by the stage name Just Sam. The 23-year-old won Season 18 of the singing competition while doing all of her live performances in her Los Angeles hotel room. Diaz was a subway performer in New York City before American Idol, and she had hoped that winning the competition and record deal would change her life. However, in a recent string of Instagram Stories, Diaz explained that things had not worked out as she'd hoped and that she's gone "broke" since her time on television.

"I thought it was gonna be easy, just go to the studio, record, put out music," Diaz explained. "And that's not how the world works. That's not how the industry works. It takes time, it takes money that I don't have. It takes patience." Although Diaz had gotten a deal with Hollywood Records after winning, she left the label before they ever released a record. 

"I have people who are helping me. I'm putting out music when I can and when it's ready," Diaz 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."

"I was not the one that pulled [my 'Rise Up performance'] down from iTunes, Hollywood Records did that," Diaz said. "I don't know the logistics behind it. I don't know the legal side of things. But I believe that when we parted ways, in order for them to keep 100% of the money that was made from 'Rise Up,' I think they had to pull it from streams so that I wouldn't get a cut, which is smart. Smart move Hollywood."

Still, since breaking with Hollywood Records, Diaz has been paying her own recording bills, which makes the process much more difficult. "I am making music," she said. "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. Not broke, broke – like I'm living. I have my own place."

Diaz also had to pay back Hollywood Records after the deal broke down, which left her with little money. "I'm not even going to tell you guys the amount of money that I had to pay after leaving the label to claim songs that I had already recorded. I'm recording all the time or making music all the time, writing every day, doing what I have to do to survive," Diaz admitted. "How can I put music before rent, I'd literally be back in the place that I was in before the show if I did that. And I tried, I really genuinely did try to pay off my music, the way that the label suggested after we parted ways. I tried their way and it did not work. I'm doing it God's way. I'm trusting the process."