All the ‘American Idol’ Winners in Order: See Where They Are Now

After 20 seasons of wild auditions, intense elimination rounds and jaw-dropping finales, American Idol is preparing to crown a new winner. In honor of the season 21 premiere, we’re taking a little trip down memory lane.

Perhaps you’re curious to know what happened to Ruben Studdard (AKA the Velvet Teddy Bear), or maybe you’re wondering what Jordin Sparks has been up to lately. That’s why we compiled a list of all the American Idol winners in order, complete with details about their most recent and upcoming projects.

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Season 1: Kelly Clarkson

American Idol’s first champion has been riding the wave of success for over two decades—and she’s showing no signs of slowing down. Since her win in 2002, Kelly Clarkson has blossomed into an actress, author and TV personality with three Grammys to her name.

Aside from releasing nine albums, she headlined multiple tours, sharing the stage with musicians like Reba McEntire, Maroon 5 and The Fray. You may have also spotted her in a few films and shows, including Nashville, King of the Hill and of course, From Justin to Kelly. But now, Clarkson is keeping busy with her talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show, which already earned her five Emmys. We wouldn’t be too surprised if she reached full EGOT status within the next five years.

Season 2: Ruben Studdard

His smooth vocals have been compared to the great Luther Vandross, so it comes as no surprise that Studdard is thriving several years after his win. The 44-year-old singer has since released seven albums, including the certified Gold I Need an Angel and his platinum-selling debut, Soulful. But like Clarkson, he also ventured into acting.

The Grammy-nominated artist appeared in several popular shows, including One on One, 8 Simple Rules and All of Us. But by 2018, he moved on to Broadway theater, making his debut in Ruben & Clay’s Christmas Show. Studdard released his most recent album in 2018, but in 2022, Diverse announced that he will be teaching a masterclass on how to prepare for the music industry at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Season 3: Fantasia Taylor

Did you know that Fantasia Taylor (formerly Barrino) was just 20 years old when she won American Idol in 2004? The power vocalist kicked things off by releasing her debut album, Free Yourself, which went platinum and earned three Grammy nominations. And in 2007, she landed the lead role of Celie in the Broadway musical, The Color Purple.

Five albums and several tours later, Taylor is ready to reprise her role as Celie in the upcoming movie adaptation of The Color Purple. And on top of that, the singer and her husband, Kendall Taylor, authored a new book called No Crowns in the Castle.

Season 4: Carrie Underwood

After being crowned the fourth American Idol winner, Carrie Underwood built a massive empire that continues to grow as we speak. Right after her win, the country star’s debut single, "Inside Your Heaven," hit the no. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and her debut album, which earned three Grammys, spawned chart-topping hits like "Jesus, Take the Wheel" and "Before He Cheats."

Since then, Underwood has released eight more albums, scored five more Grammys and earned five Guinness World Records, making her one of the biggest country singers of all time. But outside of music, she published a New York Times best seller, dabbled in acting and even launched her own fitness clothing line, CALIA.

Season 5: Taylor Hicks

After he won the nation over with his contagious energy and awesome stage presence, Taylor Hicks signed with Arista Records to release his self-titled debut album. And three years later, he released The Distance through his own label, Modern Whomp.

In 2008, he ventured into Broadway and joined the cast of Grease as Teen Angel. Plus, in 2012, he made history as the first American Idol winner to land a long-term Las Vegas residency. Most recently, he released two songs for the rom-com film Stars Fell on Alabama, which included a cover of The Rejects song, “Gives You Hell.”

Season 6: Jordin Sparks

Sparks (AKA the youngest winner in the show’s history) has come a very long way since she competed on the show. After winning at age 17, the singer went on to release four studio albums and multiple chart-topping singles, including the infamous hit "No Air," which earned her a Grammy Award nomination. Her lengthy resume also boasts a few acting credits, including the Broadway musical, In the Heights, and her feature film debut, Sparkle.

According to her official website, she's currently developing a cooking series and planning to launch her own line of beauty products.

Season 7: David Cook

After Idol, David Cook’s debut single "The Time of My Life," made the Billboard Hot 100 charts and sold an impressive 1.4 million copies. And his self-titled debut album, which spawned two top twenty singles, was also certified platinum.

So far, he has four studio albums under his belt, and Cook has headlined several tours. (The most recent was The Looking Glass in 2021.) Like other previous winners, the singer also made it to Broadway, where he played Charlie Price in Kinky Boots.

Season 8: Kris Allen

After thousands of fans swore that Adam Lambert would win, Kris Allen came out on top in a surprising twist. And since then, he has released six albums and toured with big musicians like Maroon 5 and Keith Urban.

But aside from making music, he’s been busy advocating for music education through organizations like the Music Empowers Foundation and Little Kids Rock. The Idol winner has also traveled across the world doing missionary work, going to places like Thailand, Mozambique and South Africa.

Season 9: Lee Dewyze

Although he already had two independent albums under his belt, it was his success on Idol that really catapulted Lee DeWyze to fame. After the show, he released his album Live It Up through RCA Records and four of his songs hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart. After joining a new label, the singer released three additional albums in 2016, 2018 and 2021 for a grand total of eight.

Season 10: Scotty Mccreery

Following his victory, Scotty McCreery parted ways with Mercury Nashville and decided to release his song, “Five More Minutes,” without the backing of a record label. As a result, he wound up making history as the first (and only) country music artist to chart a song that was independently released.

The season ten winner has kept the momentum going since then. He released a total of five albums, and his latest, Same Truck, dropped in 2021. McCreery also scored a few awards, including an ACM Award for Best New Artist and two ACA Awards for Artist of the Year.

Season 11: Phillip Phillips

Fun fact: Phillip Phillips’s debut song, “Home,” is the best-selling song in American Idol history, with over five million copies sold in the U.S. alone. His first album, The World from the Side of the Moon, spawned two major hits, including “Gone, Gone, Gone.”

Since then, he has released two more albums (Behind the Light in 2014 and Collateral in 2018) and toured with musicians like John Mayer, Gavin DeGraw and the Goo Goo Dolls. NBD.

Season 12: Candice Glover

As they say, third time's a charm. Candice Glover made history as the first champion who auditioned three times before making it to the live shows. And while Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey’s reported feud was dominating headlines at the time, Glover still made quite an impression.

Following her win on season 13, she joined the American Idols LIVE! Tour 2013 and released her album Music Speaks, which made it to the Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. But since then, the songstress has ventured into acting. In 2017, Glover made her Broadway debut in the musical Home for the Holidays, which also featured Bianca Ryan from America’s Got Talent and Josh Kaufman from The Voice.

Season 13: Caleb Johnson

In 2014, Caleb Johnson made it to American Idol's top 13 after auditioning twice in previous seasons. And fortunately, his determination paid off.

After winning, he teamed up with Interscope Records and released an album called Testify, which peaked at no. 24 on the Billboard 200. But in 2015, he left Interscope to create his own label, Big Johnson Records. He formed a band called Caleb Johnson & the Ramblin' Saints, and together they released Born from Southern Ground in 2019. Johnson also dropped a solo album, called Mountain Mojo Vol. 1, in June 2021.

Season 14: Nick Fradiani

One thing we can say about Nick Fradiani is that he's a go-getter. After competing on both America's Got Talent and Battle of the Bands, the singer already had a decent following as a band member. So, when he moved on to American Idol as a solo artist, he was already a natural.

Now, he has an EP and solo album, called Hurricane, under his belt. Plus, in 2021, he released his latest single, “Never Gonna.” He explained on Instagram, “I wrote this song about two weeks into quarantine back in March of 2020. Playing this song really feels good, and I hope you feel that way when you hear it!”

Season 15: Trent Harmon

It all started with his soulful rendition of Allen Stone's "Unaware" during the auditions. And even after dealing with health issues, Trent Harmon persevered and finished the season on top.

Harmon hasn’t been very active on social media lately, but after his victory, Harmon joined Big Machine Records and released a self-titled EP, which included his hit single, "There's a Girl." Then, after a short hiatus due to contract issues, he released his debut album, You Got 'Em All, in 2018. The following year, he tied the knot with his longtime girlfriend, Kathleen Couch.

Season 16: Maddie Poppe

The folk singer and instrumentalist won American Idol after impressing the judges with her stellar voice. And since then, Maddie Poppe has released an album with multiple chart-topping singles, including "Made You Miss" and "Not Losing You.” Poppe even scored a People's Choice Award for Competition Contestant of 2018.

But fans may recall that she found love with fellow American Idol contestant and runner-up, Caleb Hutchinson. In December 2022, Poppe confirmed breakup rumors after she had removed his photos from her Instagram page.

Season 17: Laine Hardy

The 22-year-old singer and guitarist first auditioned in 2018 and only made it to the top 50. But when Laine Hardy returned the following year to play guitar for a friend, he accidentally became a contestant when the judges encouraged him to audition for a second time.

After winning American Idol, his coronation song, "Flame," peaked at no. 8 on the U.S. digital charts, and he went on to headline his first tour in 2019. He went on the road once again following the release of his debut album, Here's to Anyone.

Season 18: Just Sam

Just Sam (AKA Samantha Diaz) made quite a few headlines after she won the competition—but not for the reasons you might think. In a candid Instagram Story, the 24-year-old Harlem native revealed that her victory on American Idol didn’t automatically lead to success in the music industry. Although she landed a record deal with Hollywood Records, she decided to leave the label.

Per Just Jared, she explained, “I’m not even going to tell you guys the amount of money I had to pay after leaving the label to claim songs that I had already recorded. Mixing and mastering music costs a lot of money. And I invested in myself.”

In September 2021, Diaz released a new song called “Change.” And in her IG post, she explained, “The message of ‘Change’ is that we must turn the other cheek, forgive and rise above these circumstances to finally break these cycles of violence. It’s our responsibility to become better, to say yes to healing and no to violence.”

Season 19: Chayce Beckham

On American Idol, he beat out finalists Willie Spence and Grace Kinstler. And now, Chayce Beckham is making his mark in the country music scene.

After his original song, “23,” peaked at no. 1 on the U.S. digital chart, the 27-year-old singer collaborated with Lindsay Ell for their catchy duet, “Can’t Do Without Me.” (You can check out their music video here.) Not only did Beckham headline his own North American tour, but he also served as an opening act for Luke Combs’s Canadian shows.

Season 20: Noah Thompson

As a constructor worker living in a small town, Thompson loved music but never thought he had a shot at American Idol. In fact, it wasn't until his best friend pushed him to audition that the 20-year-old singer felt more confident about following his dreams.

As viewers fell in love with the country star, Thompson began sharing more of his vocal chops online through TikTok videos belting hits like "Stay" by Rihanna and "Blue Side of the Mountian" by Chris Stapleton. Before joining the show as a contestant, Thompson had already produced three original songs: "Pedestal," "Not a Phase," and "Hearts Painted Black." Recently, he released a new song titled "One Day Tonight" that's already landed him the number one spot on the iTunes charts.