Eliminated "American Idol" contestant Pia Toscano said on Friday she had a premonition that she was in danger of leaving the TV talent show — an exit that stunned everyone from Hollywood stars to the media.
Toscano, 22, was considered one of the front-runners for the ultimate prize of a recording contract. But she was booted off the show by viewers to end in 9th place, causing outrage among the judges and moving Jennifer Lopez to tears.
USA Today called the departure of the dark-haired New York ballad singer "the most surprising elimination" in the 10-year history of America's most-watched TV show. The newspaper said Toscano's exit overshadowed those in previous years of Jennifer Hudson and Chris Daughtry, who both went on to become big recording stars.
Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks was among celebrities who took to Twitter to voice their shock. "Don't have an IDOL habit, but how could the USA vote Pia off? I may be done for the season!" Hanks said in a Tweet.
Toscano told reporters on Friday she had heard all the theories on her elimination, ranging from an "Idol" audience bias toward male singers to her own, sometimes awkward, stage presence.
"I really don't know (why). But it was my time to go. It happened for a reason and I feel like I have a bright future so I am not upset. I am positive right now," she said.
Toscano said she had no regrets about switching from big ballads to the Tina Turner rock classic "River Deep, Mountain High" this week, and was proud of her performance.
But she said she had a premonition afterward that she would be in the bottom three after the public vote. "I felt something weird. It happens a lot to me, premonitions," she said.
Nevertheless, Toscano described the moments after the results were announced as a shock and a blur. After the broadcast, she was led out of the TV studio by medics.
"Last night was such a blur. I was so emotional. I could barely get through that last song. When (the judges) came up to me I was overwhelmed. They were in shock, and it was shocking to see them like that.
"I was trying to take deep breaths but I was getting very light headed...It was a little overwhelming so I did have the medic walk me off stage and I did have a little bit of a moment, but I am fine now," she said.
The revamped "American Idol" on Fox television, with new judges Lopez and Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, has halted the ratings decline of the past three years and attracts about 25 million viewers.
The winner will be crowned in May and will get a recording contract.
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