So that’s where he’s been all this time!
During American Idol season 16’s live two-hour finale on Monday night, longtime fans were hit with a major blast from the past: Sanjaya Malakar!
Jimmy Kiimmel came out with a time capsule that was buried in Ryan Seacrest‘s zucchini garden filed with relics from American Idol‘s 15-season fun on Fox, including Steven Tyler‘s many scarves, the only purchased copy of From Justin to Kelly, Sanjaya’s infamous hair…and Sanjaya himself. But the biggest surprise of all was the fact that he had shaved off all of his hair. So long, faux-hawk!
And guess who was in the audience? The Crying Girl, all grown-up! You remember her as the 13-year-old girl named Ashley Ferl who became a viral sensation when she could not stop crying during Sanjaya’s Top 11 performance during his season in 2006. She became the face of the Fanjayas aka the fans of Sanjaya.
“She’s been waiting 12 years just to feel something again!” Kimmel said of the still-pig-tailed Ashley.
During the season 16 finale, Kimmel noted that Clay Aiken was also supposed to be in the time capsule, which led to a super-dark reveal from Sanjaya.
“I’ve been in there a long time, Jimmy,” he said. “I ate him!”
Sanjaya last released music in 2011, and he was spotted singing in a NYC subway station back in 2013. So clearly, he spent some time out of the time capsule!
During season six, Sanjaya, now 28, became a standout contestant thanks to his hair and the campaign by Vote For the Worst to keep him on the show, with Howard Stern also serving as a vocal supporter. Jordin Sparks ultimately won.
After a little digging, we found Sanjaya on Instagram, though he hasn’t posted a photo since July 2017 when he last shared a selfie with his pet goat.