Luke Bryan Reacts To Caleb Kennedy's Controversial 'American Idol' Exit

American Idol judge Luke Bryan has weighed in on Caleb Kennedy’s shocking departure from the show.

The promising 16-year-old performer, who was expected to appear to compete in the Top 5 last night, suddenly announced he would be leaving the show after an offensive video from his past surfaced online.

Speaking about Kennedy’s unexpected exit and the controversy surrounding the situation following Sunday’s (May 16) episode, Bryan told PEOPLE:

"First and foremost, as judges, we love these kids. We get emotionally involved in these kids. We want the best for Caleb. As far as the nuances on how ABC gets viewed, either way, decisions got made and it's our job as judges to show up and do our best job and comment on the kids who are in front of us. But we wish nothing but the best for Caleb. It does make for a very, very challenging and upsetting week."

Fellow American Idol judge Lionel Richie also chimed in: "Well losing great talent is always [hard]... this is our class. This is the class of 2021. So, you know, it was an unfortunate situation. We had to ride with what's happening with ABC, and you know that's where we play. So you know we wish him all the best, but that was just one of those unfortunate things that happen along the way of life."

For those who don’t know, Kennedy announced his departure from the show after a Snapchat video — supposedly recorded when the performer was 12 years old, according to this mother — showed him sitting beside someone who was wearing what appeared to be a white hood resembling those worn by the Ku Klux Klan.

“There was a video that surfaced on the internet and it displayed actions that were not meant to be taken in that way. I was younger and did not think about the actions, but that’s not an excuse. I wanna say sorry to all my fans and everyone who I have let down,” Kennedy wrote in a statement on Instagram. “I’m so sorry! I pray that I can one day regain your trust in who I am and have your respect! Thank you for supporting me.”

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