Iam Tongi won Season 21 of American Idol but the young pop-folk singer was not the show's big winner.

In fact, it's been a very long time since the contestant with the most votes became a "star." Until very recently, the last 10 winners had as many hit songs as you do, but at least they got paid, right?


The payout is No. 3 on this list of 10 things American Idol secrets they probably don't want you to know. Also featured below are scripting accusations, judge salaries, the truth about song choice and a pattern of tragedy that just can't be ignored.

Related: American Idol Champ Laine Hardy Admits the Worst Part of the Show

Idol's rival The Voice has been criticized for not supporting finalists and winners post-show, but ever since Phillip Phillips won in 2012, success for American Idol winners has been elusive.

A few finalists have done very well, which strengthens an argument that it's better to finish in second or third than it is to go all the way. But there's no bigger systematic failure than what happened to Season 18's winner: A once promising rising star was left with a huge debt to pay.

Scroll down to read all 10 secrets that American Idol doesn't want you to know. Sources for each point are included.

10 'American Idol' Secrets They Don't Want You to Know

Iam Tongi may have won Season 21 of American Idol, but he was not the show's real winner. This list of 10 American Idol secrets includes a look into his future, as well as a peek behind the curtain of America's most successful reality television show.

Gallery Credit: Billy Dukes

14 'American Idol' Singers Who Secretly Hooked Up — Or Did They?

At least two couples who met through American Idol got married, while one more could be headed in that direction. Not all American Idol hookups have a happy ending, however. Here are seven of the most talked about meet-ups, plus the real scoop on how serious things got.

More From Taste of Country