A List of All American Idol Winners by Year

american idol winners
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Last updated on August 7th, 2023 at 07:44 am

For 20 seasons, American Idol has dominated weekly television broadcasts as millions tuned in to listen to and vote for their favorite contestant. The hit reality singing competition has seen many changes over the years from Fox to ABC, including a shake-up of the judges from the original trio of Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell to the current lineup of Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie. One thing has remained the same, though: the road to the crowning of the winner captivates audiences across the world. 

Here’s the complete list of all 20 American Idol winners by year.

American Idol Winners

1. Kelly Clarkson (2002)

kelly clarkson
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The inaugural winner of the hit reality show, Kelly Clarkson, hasn’t slowed down since she won the first season of American Idol in 2002. For the last 20 years, she has released hit record after hit record, starred in a movie, become a mom, gotten married and divorced, and is now the star of her own award-winning talk show.

2. Ruben Studdard (2003)

ruben studdard
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Since his 2003 second-season win over Clay Aiken, Ruben Studdard hasn’t just continued his music journey but has also delved into acting. Between his seven studio albums and one compilation album between 2003 and 2013, and his guest appearances on shows such as 8 Simple Rules and movies like Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed.

3. Fantasia Barrino (2004)

fantasia barrino
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With hit songs like “I Believe” and “Lose to Win,” Fantasia Barrino has continued to do well for herself since becoming the winner of the third season of American Idol in 2004. With a voice compared to superstar Tina Turner’s, Barrino has never shied away from learning from some of her biggest influences, like Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald, when releasing her contemporary R&B sound.

4. Carrie Underwood (2005)

carrie underwood songs
Singer Carrie Underwood performs onstage at the 4th ACM Party for a Cause Festival at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds on April 1, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Image from Shutterstock.

She’s the Queen of Country Music, and rightfully so, since claiming the American Idol title in 2005. With more than 66 million records sold worldwide, it looks like Simon Cowell was right when he said she’d sell more records than any other previous (or post) Idol winner.

Related: Carrie Underwood Biography: How She Got Her Start in Country, Her House, and More

5. Taylor Hicks (2006)

taylor hicks
LOS ANGELES – APR 7: Taylor Hicks at the American Idol FINALE Arrivals at the Dolby Theater on April 7, 2016 in Los Angeles, CA. Image from Shutterstock.

Taylor Hicks was a fan favorite during season five of American Idol, considering he took home the title over runner-up Katharine McPhee and expected winner Chris Daughtry. Despite that, however, his career since has only been so-so compared to other winners. With only two studio albums and a few singles, he’s been more involved in hosting various shows and playing a Teen Angel for the 2009 national tour of Grease. 

6. Jordin Sparks (2007)

jordin sparks
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Jordin Sparks has been “on our heart just like a tattoo” ever since she won American Idol in 2007, becoming the series’ youngest winner at that time and since. Although she took a hiatus from music after parting ways with her record company, she’s continued to pop up in various projects, including movies, shows, and appearing as a contestant on the 31st season of another hit reality show competition – Dancing with the Stars – partnering with celebrity dancer Brandon Armstrong.

7. David Cook (2008)

david cook
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Millions tuned in on May 21, 2008, to find out which David would take home the coveted title during American Idol’s seventh season. Cook was the word, and he has lived up to the honor since his Idol days, recording three albums and headlining several tours. 

8. Kris Allen (2009)

Kris allen
LOS ANGELES – APR 7: Kris Allen at the American Idol FINALE Arrivals at the Dolby Theater on April 7, 2016 in Los Angeles, CA. Image from Shutterstock.

Just as much as Kris Allen has been releasing music and regularly touring since his 2009 win. He didn’t let his success on the show deter him from continuing his philanthropy work that he started before his appearance on American Idol. 

9. Lee DeWyze (2010)

lee dewyze
LOS ANGELES – MAR 11: Lee Dewyze American Idol Top 12 Party for Season 9 held at the Industry Club on March 11, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Image from Shutterstock.

Lee DeWyze burst into the pop-rock scene following his 2010 win on American Idol’s ninth season. Since his victory, however, his activity has wavered, with only a few albums released that didn’t perform well on the charts. His most recent album, Paranoia, released in 2018, didn’t even debut on the charts.

10. Scotty McCreery (2011)

Scotty McCreery
LOS ANGELES – MAY 25: Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina at the American Idol Finale at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, California on May 25, 2011.

Scotty McCreery impressed America from his performance of Josh Turner’s hit song “Your Man.” Since his win over fellow future country superstar Lauren Alaina, he has made a name for himself in the world of country music with hits such as “The Trouble with Girls,” “This Is It,” and “Five More Minutes.”

11. Phillip Phillips (2012)

phillip phillips
LOS ANGELES – MAR 1: Phillip Phillips arrives at the American Idol Season 11 Top 13 Party at the The Grove Parking Structure Rooftop on March 1, 2012 in Los Angeles, CA. Image from Shutterstock.

His name alone is enough to make it so no one would forget him, but Phillip Phillips upped the ante when he won the 11th season of American Idol in 2012. He’ll release his fourth studio album, Drift Back, on June 9, 2023.  

12. Candace Glover (2013)

season 13 of american idol top contestants
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“Girl Power” were the only words needed to describe Candace Glover’s winning season on American Idol, as the last five weeks featured the top five girls continued to take the stage, with Glover ultimately taking the crown. 

13. Caleb Johnson (2014)

caleb johnson
LOS ANGELES – MAY 21: Caleb Johnson, Winner American Idol at the American Idol Season 13 Finale at Nokia Theater at LA Live on May 21, 2014 in Los Angeles, CA. Image from Shutterstock.

Covering greats such as The Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga, and Aretha Franklin, Caleb Johnson was the rocker on the 13th season of American Idol. He’s continued that legacy in nine years with his handful of singles and albums.

14. Nick Fradiani (2015)

nick fradiani
LOS ANGELES – APR 3: Nick Fradiani at the iHeart Radio Music Awards 2016 Arrivals at the The Forum on April 3, 2016 in Inglewood, CA

Nick Fradiani knew what he was doing when he appeared on American Idol’s 14th season, with regional fame already established as the lead singer of the band Beach Avenue in his home state of Connecticut. If you’re in New York City, you can check him out at the Broadhurst Theater in A Beautiful Noise every Wednesday evening.

15. Trent Harmon (2016)

trent harmon
LOS ANGELES – APR 7: Trent Harmon at the American Idol FINALE Arrivals at the Dolby Theater on April 7, 2016 in Los Angeles, CA. Image from Shutterstock.

Justin Timberlake met country music when Trent Harmon released his debut album after his 2016 Idol win. With a peak at number 34 on the US Country charts, we can only imagine what will happen if he releases more.

16. Maddie Poppe (2018)

Maddie poppe
LOS ANGELES – NOV 11: Maddie Poppe at the People’s Choice Awards 2018 at the Barker Hanger on November 11, 2018 in Santa Monica, CA. Image from Shutterstock.

After more than a year away, Maddie Poppe will always go down in history as the first winner of American Idol after it left Fox and moved to ABC. This multi-instrumentalist, skilled on the guitar, piano, and ukelele, earned her title, not only winning the show but also the title of favorite competition contestant for the People’s Choice Awards and the Talent Recap Fan Choice Awards.

17. Laine Hardy (2019)

Laine Hardy
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Laine Hardy didn’t get to ride out his music success for very long after his 2019 American Idol win. In 2022, he made the news when he was arrested for bugging a Louisiana State University dormitory.

18. Just Sam (2020)

Samantha Diaz

Samantha Diaz, aka Just Sam, had a rough start after winning the hit reality show. Just Sam’s first single wasn’t released for nearly a year thanks to issues with the record label. Since, Just Sam has only released non-album singles.  

19. Chayce Beckham (2021)

chayce beckham

Chayce Beckham didn’t just make a name himself as the number-one singer but also as a songwriter as he performed his original song “23,” which went No. 1 on iTunes after he performed it during the Top 4.

20. Noah Thompson (2022)

noah thompson

Noah Thompson is the reigning American Idol, and, so far, he hasn’t been wasting time. His debut single, “One Day Tonight,” peaked at No. 48 on the country charts. Only time will tell where this Idol will go!

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Written by Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson received her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth in 2015. She has worked in journalism since 2015, beginning as production assistant and eventual head staff writer of the Fort Leavenworth Lamp newspaper in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Currently, she is a multimedia journalist with the Diocese of Nashville's Office of Media and Evangelization where she writes, does photography, and edits for several types of content, including the Tennessee Register, Catholic Awakenings, and She has also worked as a freelance journalist with the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas's newspaper, The Leaven, since 2016.
In her spare time, Peterson enjoys reading, spending time with her pup, Sadie Lynn, singing and songwriting.


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