The Final Countdown

It’s 15 years in, and here we are, immersed in the final season of American Idol.

Those of us who’ve been on this roller coaster ride for its entire run know by now that Idol winners don’t always benefit the most out of all the contestants that season. Call it Cinderella Syndrome…Idol winners get to go to the ball and be the belle, but at midnight they best be in their place, or they’ll be shambling home wearing rags, one shoe and carrying a pumpkin named Brian Dunkleman.

So let’s take a walk down memory lane and ruminate on the real winners of the Idol Dynasty.

Winner, Season 1

Kelly Clarkson

Kelly won over squiggle-head runner-up Justin Guarini, and went on to fulfill some bizarre contractual duties before coming into her own as a vocal star.

Who came out on top

Kelly Clarkson

No one from Season 1 rose to the heights that Kelly did by a long shot. Guarini has moved on to a surprisingly cool niche as Dr. Pepper spokesnerd Lil Sweet, and Nikki McKibbin stayed in the headlines for a while as the resident bad girl. Otherwise, Kelly was and remains the OG American Idol.

Winner, Season 2

Ruben Studdard

Ruben did a great job and continues, apparently, to be just fine.

Who came out on top

Clay Aiken

But Studdard just wasn’t any match for Aiken and his ‘Clay-mates.’ No one was really a big winner in the end from this season, though. Aiken had a great touring and Christmas album career for a while, tried to run for office and failed, and most recently got on Twitter to poop all over American Idol. Not very PC, dude.

Winner, Season 3

Fantasia Barrino

Fantasia is doing just fine. She’s a Grammy-winner with additional awards for Broadway performances, recording, and activism, and had a Lifetime movie produced about her life that she went ahead and starred in.

Who came out on top

Jennifer Hudson

Hudson went out seventh, and came back into focus a few years later with a Grammy, an Oscar,

Winner, Season 4

Carrie Underwood

Who came out on top

Carrie Underwood

Winner, Season 5

Taylor Hicks

Who came out on top

Chris Daughtry, Katherine McPhee, Mandisa

Winner, Season 6

Jordin Sparks

Who came out on top

Jordin Sparks

Winner, Season 7

David Cook

Who came out on top

David Cook

Winner, Season 8

Kris Allen

Who came out on top

Adam Lambert

Winner, Season 9

Lee DeWyze

Who came out on top

Crystal Bowersox

Winner, Season 10

Scotty McCreery

Who came out on top

Scotty McCreery

Winner, Season 11

Phillip Phillips

Who came out on top

Phillip Phillips

Winner, Season 12

Candice Glover

Who came out on top

Candice Glover

Winner, Season 13

Caleb Johnson

Who came out on top

TBA

Winner, Season 14

Nick Fradiani

Who came out on top

TBA, but my money is on Jax 😉

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