Carrie Underwood on American Idol/ Fantasia Barrino during American Idol season/ Taylor Hicks performs on American Idol
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'American Idol' Winners: Where Are They Now?

American Idol is almost as American as apple pie. The show started back in June 2002 and premiered its 21st season in February. Twenty seasons means 20 winners, all of whom have shared various levels of post-show success. Even with an entirely virtual season because of COVID-19, the show has been delighting audiences and elevating regular people to the highest level of stardom, including country stars Carrie Underwood and Scotty McCreery. 

Below, we've rounded up the winner of every season from the original Idol, Kelly Clarkson, to the most recent winner, Noah Thompson, and noted what each winner is up to now. 

Kelly Clarkson (Season 1)

Kelly Clarkson at FOX TV's "American Idol", broadcast live from Television City in Los Angeles, Ca. Tuesday, July 16, 2002.

Photo by Kevin Winter/ImageDirect/FOX

Clarkson was just 20 years old when she won the first season of American Idol. According to Entertainment Tonight, her first single, "A Moment Like This," broke the Beatles' record for the largest jump to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Following her success, she appeared as a judge on The Voice and has hosted her own talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show, for four seasons.


Ruben Studdard (Season 2)

BURBANK, CA - MAY 06: Finalists Clay Aiken, Ruben Studdard and Kimberley Locke practice before the show's grand finale on May 21, 2003 at the Universal Amphitheatre in Burbank, California. Studdard won the competition to become the new 2003 American Idol. Hosted by Ryan Seacrest and with its celebrity judges, Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell the show is now in its six season and has become one the most watched t.v shows of all time.

Charles Ommanney/Getty Images

Ruben Studdard became the second winner back in 2003. The same year that he won, he was nominated for a Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for his song "Superstar." He's released seven albums and is now focused on gospel music. After making his Broadway debut in 2018, he began teaching music masterclasses at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. 

Fantasia Barrino (Season 3)

Fantasia Barrino


Fantasia Barrino was just 19 when she won season 3. Her first album garnered four Grammy nominations, but she nabbed her first win for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for "Bittersweet." Like Studdard, Barrino appeared on Broadway, in The Color Purple and After Midnight. She was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2014.

Carrie Underwood (Season 4)

 "American Idol" Season 4 - Top 24 Semifinalist, Carrie Underwood, 21, Checotah, Oklahoma

Ray Mickshaw/WireImage

Even though she won Idol 18 years ago, Carrie Underwood's fame and popularity have only grown. She's sold over 70 million records and won three Grammy awards, most recently winning Country Artist of the Year in 2022. She began a Las Vegas residency in 2021, which continues into 2023. She's even delved into the fitness world, launching her own athletic line, CALIA by Carrie. In 2015, she married Mike Fisher, and they share two young boys. 

Taylor Hicks (Season 5)

"American Idol" Season 5 -Top 16 Finalist, Taylor Hicks, 29, from Birmingham, Alabama

Chris Polk/FilmMagic for Fox Television Network

After winning season 5, Tayor Hicks' first single launched to No. 1 on the Billboard 100 and was certified gold. He went on to release three albums, with his most recent single debuting in 2017. Hicks had a brief stint in Grease on Broadway and a short residency in Las Vegas. He also co-owns the barbecue restaurant SAW's Juke Joint in Alabama. 

Jordin Sparks (Season 6)

Jordin Sparks during "American Idol" season

Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

Jordin Sparks was only 17 years old when she won, making her the youngest winner. Her debut album went platinum, and she went on to win a Grammy nomination in 2009. She took a short hiatus from singing to try her hand at acting. She starred in Into the Heights on Broadway and appeared in the movie Sparkle. Most recently, she appeared on The Masked Dancer. After splitting with Jason Derulo, she married Dana Isaiah, and the two welcomed a son in 2018. 

David Cook (Season 7)

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 06: American Idol contestant David Cook attends the American Idol Top 12 Party at the Pacific Design Center on March 6, 2008 in West Hollywood, California.

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

After David Cook won, he went on to release three albums, with the first becoming certified platinum. As with many prior Idol winners, he performed on Broadway, in the show Kinky Boots. After his brother tragically passed away in 2009, he returned to Idol to perform a song in his memory. Cook's been married to Racheal Stump since 2015.

Kris Allen (Season 8)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 25: Contestant Kris Allen performs live on American Idol February 25, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. The second 12 of the top 36 perform in front of the American Idol judges on Fox.

M Becker/American Idol 2009/Getty Images for Fox

Kris Allen was considered an underdog victor after he beat out the expected winner, Adam Lambert. Between his win in 2009 and 2016, he released five albums and toured. His latest album, called 10, was released in 2019 and was a compilation of reworked songs. He's married to his high school sweetheart and has three children. 

Lee DeWyze (Season 9)

Contestant Lee Dewyze arrives at Fox's Meet the Top 12 "American Idol" finalists held at Industry on March 11, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Prior to winning Idol, Lee DeWyze was in a band and had released two albums. After winning, he released several solo albums including his most recent EP, Ghost Stories. He's lent his voice to songs for shows including The Walking Dead, Shameless and Nashville. In 2023, he'll be performing throughout the U.S. for his Into the Wild tour. 

Scotty McCreery (Season 10)

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 03: American Idol Finalist Scotty McCreery attends Fox's "American Idol" Finalist Party on March 3, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Following in Sparks' footsteps, Scotty McCreery was also 17 when he won his season. After winning, he officially graduated high school and earned his bachelor's degree from North Carolina State University. He released three albums, including a Christmas album, before he released his first book, Go Big or Go Home: The Journey Toward the Dream. After marrying his longtime girlfriend, Gabi, he released two more albums and spent 2021 on his tour. McCreery and his wife welcomed a baby boy  last year.

Phillip Phillips (Season 11)

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Contestant Phillip Phillips performs onstage at FOX's "American Idol" Season 11 Top 12 Guys Live Performance Show on February 28, 2012 in Hollywood, California.

FOX via Getty Images

After winning, Phillip Phillips released two albums, the first of which went multi-platinum. Only a few years later, he had to take a pause from his music career after a financial dispute with the Idol production company. In 2017, he settled his lawsuit and released his third album. He dabbled in acting, appearing in an episode of Hawaii Five-0, before getting married and welcoming a son.

Candice Glover (Season 12)

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 07: Singer Candice Glover attends the American Idol finalists event at The Grove on March 7, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Candice Glover was the first female to win American Idol since season 6 winner Jordin Sparks. She released her debut album shortly after she won, along with two singles in the years that followed. She performed in the Broadway concert Home for the Holidays and continues to perform. She is also working toward getting her bachelor's degree in film and television.

Caleb Johnson (Season 13)

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 19: Contestant Caleb Johnson performs onstage on FOX's "American Idol" Season 13 Men Perform Live Show on February 19, 2014 in Hollywood, California.

FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

Caleb Johnson released his album quickly after winning, although it didn't perform nearly as well as albums of prior Idol contestants. After he separated from his record label, he formed a band called Caleb Johnson and the Ramblin' Saints. The gospel band released its latest album in 2021.

Nick Fradiani (Season 14)

AMERICAN IDOL XIV: TOP 8 GUYS: Nick Fradiani performs in the all-new Top 8 Guys Perform episode of AMERICAN IDOL XIV airing Wednesday, March 4 (8:00-9:00 PM ET / PT on FOX.

FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

Prior to winning Idol, Nick Fradiani had his own band, Beach Avenue, and appeared on America's Got Talent. After winning, he released his album, Hurricane. He then joined the national tour of A Bronx Tour and released his new single, "Never Gonna," in 2021. 

Trent Harmon (Season 15)

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 25: American Idol contestant Trent Harmon attends Meet Fox's "American Idol XV" Finalists at The London Hotel on February 25, 2016 in West Hollywood, California.

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

Trent Harmon was the final winner of the first iteration of American Idol on Fox. He's only released one album, which came out in 2018. His latest single, "She's My Heaven," dropped in 2021. He lives in Nashville with his wife and dogs, and works as a songwriter. 

Maddie Poppe (Season 16)

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: Singer Maddie Poppe arrives at ABC's "American Idol" show on April 29, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.

Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Maddie Poppe had previously been on The Voice and released her independent album, Songs From the Basement. During her finale, it was revealed that she and fellow contestant Caleb Lee Hutchinson were dating. She released her first studio album in 2019 and continues to release music. She opened for folk singer Ingrid Michaelson's tour in 2019.

Laine Hardy (Season 17)

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 21: Laine Hardy attends the taping of ABC's 'American Idol' on April 21, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.

JB Lacroix/Getty Images

After auditioning in 2016 but not making the cut, Laine Hardy accompanied his friend to her audition and was convinced to try again — and it certainly paid off. Hardy released his debut album in 2021. He was arrested in 2022 after being accused of hiding a listening device in an ex's dorm room. He later updated fans saying he will be releasing new music. 

Just Sam (Season 18)

Just Sam performs on "American Idol"

Screenshot via American Idol/ YouTube

Just Sam was the first Idol winner who competed remotely, due to the coronavirus pandemic. After winning, Just Sam released a single but decided to go their own way after leaving the Hollywood Records label. They released a few singles in 2021 and 2022, including "Question."

Chayce Beckham (Season 19)

ONTARIO, CA - OCTOBER 06: ONTARIO, CA - OCTOBER 06: Apple Valleys Chayce Beckham, who won American Idol, in May performs The Beatles Blackbird, during the San Bernardino County State of the County held at the Toyota Arena in Ontario on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021.

Cindy Yamanaka/MediaNews Group/The Riverside Press-Enterprise via Getty Images

Chayce Beckham won over the hearts of Americans with his country vocals and his original song, "23." After winning, he released a song he wrote, making him the first winner to use an original work. He released his first EP, and it soared to No. 1. He continues to write and release new music. 

Noah Thompson (Season 20)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 18: Noah Thompson attends "American Idol" 20th Anniversary Celebration at Desert 5 Spot on April 18, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

Momodu Mansaray/Getty Images

America's love for country music was evident with Noah Thompson's win. He released his single, "One Day Tonight," shortly after his win and continues to work on new music. His newest song, "Make You Rich," was released in October 2022. 

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