Where are the first 17 ‘American Idol’ winners now: Find out what happened to your favorites

American Idol” just crowned the winner of season 18. While the show has been a ratings success for ABC since it re-launched the franchise in 2018, neither of the two recent champions has become a household name. The 2018 winner, Maddie Poppe, released her first album, “Whirlwind,” just two days before the 2019 final. However, she wasn’t given a chance to perform on this three-hour show.

In that season 17 finale, Laine Hardy pull off an upset over Alejandro Alandra. At least Laine got a chance to sing, albeit remotely, during the run-up to this year’s finale. Hardy performed his cover of the Tom Cochrane classic “Life is a Highway” during the Top 7 show on May 10.

Such treatment is a marked contrast to the early years of the show. The previous season’s winner was always showcased on the episode that unveiled the new winner of the franchise. “American Idol” celebrated the success stories of many of its winners, with repeated requests to return to perform.

This Emmy-winning reality competition series began in 2002 and was a ratings powerhouse for the better part of a decade. Those high viewing numbers ensured a built-in audience for many of the early winners. Some have parlayed that fame into long-lasting careers.

SEE ‘American Idol’ judges rankings: All 14 judges ranked from worst to best

The first-ever “American Idol” winner, Kelly Clarkson, has won three Grammys, released a string of hit records and has an ongoing gig as a judge on NBC’s’ “The Voice.” The season 4 champ, Carrie Underwood, has done even better, having sold upwards of records and won a shelf load of music awards.

However, many of the more recent music newcomers to be named “American Idol” have found that their time in the spotlight is fleeting. In the photo gallery above, we take a look back at the first 17 “American Idol” winners to date and see how many have been lucky so far and which have been jinxed.

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