Sanjaya Malakar Says That He’s Done Being The Butt of ‘American Idol’s Jokes

Corey Cesare
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'American Idol' season six top 12 contestants at 'American Idol's Annual Top 12 PartyPhoto by Michael Buckner/Getty Images

American Idol star Sanjaya Malakar recently revealed what it’s really like as an alum of the series. With various reunions under his belt, this singer reveals the real reason he didn’t appear on American Idol‘s 20th season.


Sanjaya Malakar is Done Being The Butt of American Idol‘s Jokes

Since finishing the series in 2007, Sanjaya has attended several reunions. After a few, he quickly realized that he was being used as the butt of everyone’s jokes. For those who may not remember, Sanjaya gained national recognition for being the butt of Simon Cowell’s jokes.

Even though Sanjaya is grateful for his time on the series, he didn’t want his reunion invitation to include a number of punchlines. Reportedly, he tried to “roll with it” for years, but this year laid out his rules.

“If I do come back, it would be really great if I was able to present myself as an artist, not as a reality-television joke,” he told American Idol producers.


Following the call, a showrunner for American Idol said his flight to Los Angeles would be too expensive to cover. As a result, Sanjaya did not appear as part of the American Idol 20th anniversary reunion.

Sanjaya Malakar’s Journey on American Idol

This singer auditioned for the series at 17 years old alongside his sister, Shyamali. They both advanced into the next round, even though Cowell said Sanjaya’s voice was better. This singer gained national recognition throughout his lengthy American Idol journey. Even though he was received poorly by the judges, the public voted him into the Top 7 of season six. He became known as the butt of Cowell’s jokes.

Throughout each round of the show, Sanjaya performed hits like “Knocks Me Off My Feet” by Stevie Wonder, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, and more. After finishing the season in seventh place, he went on to make several television guest appearances. He later gained success as a writer with the Chicken Soup for the Soul book and a memoir.


After finishing American Idol season six in seventh place, Sanjaya Malakar was ready to make a living for himself. He recently revealed that it was hard for him to find a job after the show, due to other people’s opinions.

Many believed that he should have attempted to launch his music career without any form of working class job. It was often implied his status would be ruined if he was “Sanjaya from American Idol working at a pizza shop.” At this point, he was 18 years old and trying to figure out a way to afford New York City rent. In turn, he worked for a karaoke bar for nearly eight years.

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