What was going on with his right eye?
The Season 18 finale of American Idol aired last night and was notably chaotic.
Due to the ongoing global health crisis, a traditional live show was an impossibility. So, for the first time ever, the show was produced with the entire cast and crew joining in virtually from separate locations, and all of the performances were live streamed or recorded in the singer's respective homes. Perhaps most challenging was the fact that the show's producers had to coordinate a live announcement of the show's winner, meaning that any lag, connection problems, or other technical difficulties were likely to ruin the big reveal. "That's going to be interesting," showrunner Trish Kinane said last month according to The Washington Post, "Let's hope the Internet gods are with us."
After a confusing moment in which it appeared Arthur Gunn thought he had won the competition, the winner was eventually revealed to be Just Sam (Samantha Diaz) who appeared absolutely shocked when Seacrest announced her name. She screamed excitedly while holding an iPad that showed her grandmother, also screaming with joy.
Over all, considering the bizarre circumstances that the cast and crew had to work under, it was a successful finale show. But many fans were distracted by an odd moment within the broadcast. Before announcing the winner, Seacrest read out a plug for a Nat Geo show, during which his speech became noticeably slower and slurred. One eye also appeared to droop slightly as the veteran host struggled to regain his composure. Fans immediately took to Twitter to share their concern for the host.
So like... I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV but did Ryan Seacrest have a stroke on national TV tonight?… https://t.co/4exe5ASawq— Whitney Spears (@Whitney Spears) 1589768699.0
Is Ryan Secrest okay? Did anyone else notice something was wrong with his eye? @RyanSeacrest @AmericanIdol #AmericanIdol— Jenna Perrine (@Jenna Perrine) 1589769174.0
Did Ryan Seacrest have a stroke? I’m worried. #AmericanIdol #americanidol2020 #ryanseacrest https://t.co/AjRMgxNCqn— Samantha Burford (@Samantha Burford) 1589767869.0
The sudden trouble speaking and change in Seacrest's eye are classic symptoms of a mild stroke. According to the CDC, signs of a stroke include, "Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body and sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech." While it would take a doctor's examination to determine whether this is indeed what happened to Seacrest during the broadcast, the sudden change in his face and speech was alarming enough to cause concern among thousands of viewers, so we hope that Seacrest is seeking prompt medical attention. The Washington Post notes that when asked to comment on the host's condition, representatives for ABC and Fremantle, the production company did not return a request for comment.
Of course, it's very possible that Seacrest just stumbled over his words slightly by mistake (as we all occasionally do) and a trick of the light or the lack of his usual pre-show make up caused his face to look the way that it did. But until we know more, we'll certainly be sending healing thoughts in the direction of the longtime TV personality.
UPDATED: 5/18 4PM EST
A rep for Ryan Seacrest has denied that the host had a stroke during the finale broadcast. "Ryan did not have any kind of stroke last night," the rep tells PEOPLE in an exclusive statement. "Like many people right now, Ryan is adjusting to the new normal and finding work-home balance, with the added stress of having to put on live shows from home."