'American Idol' Finalist Caleb Kennedy Leaves the Show After Offensive Video Resurfaces
By Zach Seemayer
Eric McCandless via Getty Images
American Idol finalist Caleb Kennedy is no longer in the competition. The 16-year-old country singer -- who made it to the Top 5 on Sunday -- has exited the show after a controversial and offensive video recently resurfaced.
In the short clip, which was originally posted as a snapchat video, a younger Kennedy is seen seated next to someone wearing what appears to be a white Klu Klux Klan-style pointed hood over his face, TMZ reports.
Kennedy addressed the controversy in a statement he posted to Instagram on Wednesday.
"Hey y’all, this is gonna be a bit of a surprise, but I am no longer gonna be on American Idol. There was a video that surfaced on the internet and it displayed actions that were not meant to be taken in that way," Kennedy shared. "I was younger and did not think about the actions, but that’s not an excuse."
According to a report by the Herald-Journal in South Carolina, where Kennedy lives, the singer's family states that the video was shot when Kennedy was 12 years old.
"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!" Kennedy's statement continued. "I pray that I can one day regain your trust in who I am and have your respect! Thank you for supporting me."
The video recently resurfaced on Twitter and other social media platforms and has drawn a lot of heat for the contestant and for the show.
When American Idol returns on Sunday, the show will feature the Top 4 performers, and will still conclude with one elimination. It's unclear how this will impact the length of the season.
This isn't the first time this season that a contestant has unexpectedly exited the series. Singer Wyatt Pike abruptly departed after making it all the way to the live rounds, citing "personal reasons." See more on the surprising exit in the video below.