Defying the odds, 20-year-old Maddie Poppe just became the sixth woman to win “American Idol” in the 16-year history of the reality TV show. This Clarksville, Iowa resident was predicted to come in second place to Gabby Barrett, but instead America chose Maddie as their Season 16 champion. When the votes were tabulated in ABC’s grand finale on May 21, 2018, Gabby came in third place while Caleb Lee Hutchinson was named the season’s runner-up. Watch Maddie’s winning moment above, complete with her tearful rendition of “Going Going Gone.”
By claiming the title, Maddie now joins these five female champs on the “American Idol” winners list: Kelly Clarkson (Season 1), Fantasia Barrino (Season 3), Carrie Underwood (Season 4), Jordin Sparks (Season 6) and Candice Glover (Season 12). Refresh your memory of all the winners in our photo gallery down below.
The 10 male singers to win “American Idol” were: Ruben Studdard (Season 2), Taylor Hicks (Season 5), David Cook (Season 7), Kris Allen (Season 8), Lee DeWyze (Season 9), Scotty McCreery (Season 10), Phillip Phillips (Season 11), Caleb Johnson (Season 13), Nick Fradiani (Season 14) and Trent Harmon (Season 15).
While Gabby was the odds-on favorite based on our readers’ predictions, Maddie had overwhelming support from judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan. In fact, Katy even joked during the performance episode that she was going to vote for her. Maddie’s truly original voice and style was evident from day one, when she auditioned with the Kermit the Frog song “The Rainbow Connection.”
Plus, might Maddie have benefited from a potential split of country voters? Since both Gabby and Caleb are country artists (just like former champs Carrie Underwood and Scotty McCreery), fans were forced to pick one over the other. It’s possible the duo split the country vote, which could have helped Maddie Poppe advance to the top of the leaderboard.