The First 12 American Idol Winners: Photos Then & Now

With Season 19 of Idol crowning a winner soon, let’s look at where the original victors are now, starting with 2002 champion Kelly Clarkson.

Ryan Seacrest & Kelly Clarkson during "American Idol" Season 1 Finale - Performance Show at Kodak Th...
Steve Granitz/Getty Images

Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images; Kevin Mazur/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Kelly Clarkson — Season 1

The first American Idol winner is also one of the few who was able to sustain her stardom. Almost 20 years later, Kelly Clarkson now has six studio albums, three Grammys, and a popular talk show (on which she brilliantly covers pop songs) under her belt. Ironically, she’s also a judge on American Idol’s top competitor: The Voice.

Paras Griffin/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images; Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images

Ruben Studdard — Season 2

Ruben Studdard may fly under the radar compared to other Idol winners, but the Grammy-nominated artist recorded seven studio albums and went on The Biggest Loser in 2013. In 2016, Ruben returned to the Idol stage for the duets round. He even reunited with his season’s Idol runner-up Clay Aiken for a Christmas Broadway show in 2018. He’s just living his best life.