“American Idol” Judges Break Silence After Contestant’s Controversial Video Surfaces

Luke Bryan / Twitter, Caleb Kennedy / Twitter

On Wednesday, May 12, American Idol contestant Caleb Kennedy announced he would be exiting the show after a video from when he was “younger” surfaced online where he was sitting next to a person wearing a Ku Klux Klan-like white hood with the eyes cut out.

Just days prior, he had made it to the Top 5 of the singing competition series, but on Wednesday, the 16-year-old made the announcement about leaving the show by posting a screenshot of text to all of his social media channels, which read, “Hey y’all, this is gonna be a bit of a surprise, but I am no longer gonna be on American Idol.

He continued, “There was a video that surfaced of me on the internet and it displayed actions that were not meant to be taken in that way. I was younger and did not think about the actions, but that’s not an excuse. I wanna say sorry to all my fans and everyone who I have let down. I’ll be taking a little time off social media to better myself, but saying that, I know this has hurt and disappointed a lot of people and made people lose respect for me. I’m so sorry! I pray that I can one day regain your trust in who I am and have your respect!

American Idol has deleted all traces of him from all their social media accounts, as well as their YouTube channel. The show moves forward on Sunday (May 16) with the Top 4 followed by a single elimination.

On the May 16th show, host Ryan Seacrest briefly spoke about Caleb’s exit saying he “will not be continuing in the competition.”

His absence wasn’t talked about again, until the judges did a Q&A after the show, where they broke their silence on the situation.

Luke Bryan said, “First and foremost, as judges and as a judges panel, we love these kids, and we get emotionally involved. We wish nothing but the best for Caleb, and it does make for a very, very challenging and upsetting week.”

Judge Lionel Richie added, “We grow up, and we make mistakes, and we look at our lives behind us many, many times, and we say, ‘God, what was I thinking about when I did that?’ This is one of those situations.”

Since the video has surfaced, Caleb’s mom has explained that he was 12 years old in the video and he and his friend had just “watched the movie ‘The Strangers: Prey at Night’ and they were imitating those characters.”