Iam Tongi becomes first Pacific Islander to win 'American Idol'

Photo: Collected

Iam Tongi, an 18-year-old from Hawaii made history this week after becoming the first Pacific Islander to win the "American Idol".

The fan-favorite Iam Tongi would go on to conquer the show's 21st season, after an emotional performance of his original song, "I'll Be Seeing You", dedicated to his late father.

Speaking to the media, Tongi said, "My dad would probably be crying right now. My dad, he's a tough man, but when my brother won state champion for wrestling, he was crying. So I can just imagine him right now."

Ever since his audition, Tongi had captured viewers with his wonderful voice and personality. In his first audition he performed a rendition of "Monsters" by James Blunt that immediately went viral, garnering over 22 million views on YouTube and TikTok. At the finale, Blunt joined Tongi for a duet that left judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan visibly emotional. 

On the morning after the finale, "I'll Be Seeing You" and "Monsters" occupied the top two spots on the iTunes Charts. 

Tongi, is of Tongan, Samoan and Irish descent. He was raised in Kahuku, Hawaii before moving to Seattle, Washington with his family.

Over the course of the season, Tongi paid tribute to his home state multiple times with covers of "Cool Down" by Kolohe Kai and "Lava" from the Disney short film of the same name, set on a Pacific island.