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Teen 'American Idol' Winner Addresses Backlash For Not Removing Hat While Singing National Anthem

Iam Tongi, who won season 21 of the reality singing competition, apologized after forgetting to remove his cap while singing 'The Star-Spangled Banner' at the MLB's 2023 All-Star Home Run Derby.

Iam Tongi
Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

American Idol champ Iam Tongi addressed the backlash he incurred for not removing his hat while performing the National Anthem.

The 18-year-old high schooler from Hawaii who won the 21st season of the reality talent competition took to the field in Seattle on July 11 for the MLB's 2023 All-Star Home Run Derby to sing the patriotic tune.

But as the ball players and the stadium crowd rose to their feet and removed their ball caps in reverence of the pre-game ritual, Tongi kept his hat on and sang the song.

And he sang it gloriously.

On Tuesday, the singer shared a video of his performance accompanied by a caption explaining how the rush of excitement got the better of him at that moment and he meant no disrespect.

"Tens of thousands of people. I walk out and my uncle reminds me to remove my hat before I start singing. I remember," he wrote.

"A few seconds later the nerves took in and didn’t remember until it was all done."

He then pledged:

"I will try to do better next time."

Here's a video of Tongi singing "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Tongi also posted another video on Instagram, this one showing behind-the-scenes footage of him going out on the field after being introduced.

He wrote:

"First time singing the National Anthem and it was nerve wrecking that the nerves took over and I forgot to take my cap off."
"So sorry guys. Biggest crowd yet!"

Fans praised his vocal performance but also assured him not to break a sweat over the innocent snafu.

We all make mistakes.

But we all can't sound like him.

Great performance, Iam!