HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii’s own Iam Tongi was crowned the winner of American Idol on Sunday, the first from the islands to ever win the title.
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With over 17 million votes submitted to Idol by viewers choosing their favorite singer, the 18-year-old came up on top during the show’s grand finale.
Fans had a watch party in Hauula in hopes of Tongi winning. It was a roller coaster of emotions on Sunday and Tongi’s family and friends were home watching the show unfold.
Cheers erupted after the show aired the huge Kahuku homecoming that happened on Tuesday at Turtle Bay Resort and Tongi was the first to make it to the final two.
Family and friends were on the edge of their seats waiting on the final announcement to be made and when Tongi won, they took to Kamehameha Highway with their Tongi swag, signs and flags.
“I’m just so proud of our son over here who made us all proud this whole community,” said Cassanera Tongi-Kaumavae, Rodney’s sister.
The Kahuku native won the judges and crowd over from the beginning with his audition song dedicated to his dad Rodney who passed away a few months before the show began.
Tongi’s family said Rodney always told Iam he would be on American Idol one day and the day has happened.
This is his dad’s dream and if [Rodney] was here, he would’ve been so happy for Iam. This is what he wanted for him and this is what he wanted the world to see, is his son on that big stage and sharing his talent with the world.”Verona Tuifui, Iam Tongi’s Manager
Idol projected 14 thousand people showed up to Tongi’s homecoming celebration on the North Shore on Tuesday.
His debut single, “I’ll be seeing you” has already climbed the iTunes charts reaching No. 2 on Sunday night.
“And Rodney he passed away, yes, but he’s blessing Iam from up there. All of Iam’s blessing is coming from his father because he knew Iam would go this far,” said Cynthia Channels, Tongi’s aunty.
In a statement, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said:
It is a proud day for Hawaii, and all of the residents of Kahuku especially. For Iam and his family, this is a very special life-changing event that he has proven he deserves with his tremendous talent and even bigger heart! Mahalo Iam… you have made us all so very proud!
Tongi’s family said they’re not sure when Tongi will be back on the island but they know it is something he would definitely be excited for.
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“Only going up from here that’s all we know. We not too sure about everything nothing is concrete yet but we’re sure everything’s going to get– just get better from here on out,” said Tuifui.