"American Idol" frontrunner Wyatt Pike is speaking out after shocking viewers with a sudden and unexplained exit from the reality singing competition.
"I had to leave the @AmericanIdol competition for personal reasons but am so thankful I get to play music for the rest of my life," Pike wrote in an Instagram post Wednesday. "Fellow contestants - miss you all, good luck! Thank you to everyone for your support… do stick around for more musical things soon!"
Host Ryan Seacrest opened the first live show of the season Monday with the news that 20-year-old college student Pike, who consistently wowed the judges with his folksy charm, had left the competition. Seacrest did not provide Pike's reason for leaving "Idol."
USA TODAY has reached out to representatives for Pike and "American Idol" for further comment.
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On April 7, he shared an Instagram post tagged in his Park City, Utah, hometown, prompting fans to wonder why he wasn't in Los Angeles for "Idol" live shows.
"Something to feel this through: home," he wrote. "Thankful for the rollercoaster I’m on today."
Throughout his time on "Idol," Pike wowed with performances of "Blame it on Me" by George Ezra, "Rubberband" by Tate McRae and "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon.
He had made it to the top 16, though the judges and many fans had high expectations for the young singer. Judge Luke Bryan assured Pike that no matter what happens on "Idol," he's "gonna be able to do music for the rest of your life," while Lionel Richie praised Pike's stage presence and promised he was "on your way to something big."
Katy Perry, who earlier in the competition dubbed Pike an "authentic, superstar musician" who "can go on tour today and fit in right now," added: "I really believe in you. I think whatever happens, you’re already it."
Contributing: Charles Trepany
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Wyatt Pike speaks out after suddenly leaving 'American Idol'