A lasting impact. Since it initially aired in June 2002, American Idol has made many dreams come true for its winners.
“When I was a little girl … if you had asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would have told you I wanted to be a famous country music singer,” season 4 winner Carrie Underwood told fans during her concert at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville in September 2019. “As I got older, dreams tend to give way to practicalities, so I started going to school to get a real job. One day there was an open door, and I walked through it and my life was changed forever.”
Underwood is not the only past winner whose life was changed after appearing on American Idol. For Jordin Sparks, the experience was even more unique because she was a fan of the hit competition show first.
“I was such a huge fan of Idol that I was more excited to audition for that than to get my driver’s license,” Sparks told AZCentral in August 2017. “That’s how a big a fan I was.”
The season 6 winner admitted that being on a show like American Idol was overwhelming. Following her win, Sparks suffered from “bad anxiety and panic attacks” as a result of how quickly things changed in her life.
“The down side is a lot of sacrifice and being alone — not lonely, but alone,” she reflected. “I’m a huge family person and not being able to make some things — that’s not easy. But my family has been completely understanding and they are so great and supportive. There are times when I want to go to see my nieces and [think], ‘Crap, I have an interview and I can’t go.’ So it’s hard, but I’ve learned how to balance things. It took a while, but I think I’ve got the hang of it and I’m happy about it now.”
Season 1’s winner, Kelly Clarkson, still puts in the work every day following her success on the hit singing show.
“18 years ago today was the finale of the first season of American Idol and it changed my life! I’m still hustlin 18 years later because I know I am blessed to have the opportunities and I still love my purpose!” Clarkson tweeted in September 2020 on the anniversary of her big win.
For Chayce Beckham, that hustle for more was bound to happen no matter what.
“I’ll record a record, put the record out, and go on tour to meet all my fans in every state that I can,” the season 19 winner told the Daily Press one month before his May 2021 win. “I’ll keep my name relevant, and I won’t stop doing what I’m doing. I think it’s a pretty simple formula, but there are so many variables to it. It just depends on your consistency and your drive, which will determine the outcome of your success.”
Scroll down to see which singers have beat thousands of other contenders to win a recording contract on American Idol: