Over the past two decades thousands of people have auditioned to be the next “American Idol,” but only 17 have won. While some winners came and went from our collective memories, these 10 champions will always stick in our minds. Tour our “American Idol” photo gallery above highlighting the Top 10 winners we love the most, ranked from worst to best. Does your #1 pick match ours?
10. Laine Hardy
Laine Hardy (age 18 on the show) didn’t plan on auditioning, but the judges forced him to after he accompanied a friend to her audition. In the May 19, 2019 season finale, Laine won Season 17 over runner-up Alejandro Aranda. Laine is now the third “Idol” winner who previously competed, following Candice Glover and Caleb Johnson. His winning song was “Flame.”
9. Scotty McCreery
Scotty McCreery (age 17 on the show) auditioned in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with Josh Turner’s “Your Man” and Travis Tritt’s “Put Some Drive In Your Country.” Scotty’s winning song was “I Love You This Big.” He was the first “Idol” winner born in the 1990s. Since winning the show, he’s taken home trophies at the American Country Awards, ACM Awards and CMT Music Awards.
8. Kris Allen
Kris Allen (age 23 on the show) is from Conway, Arkansas and auditioned in Louisville, Kentucky with Leon Russell’s “A Song For You.” Kris’ winning song was “No Boundaries,” written by “American Idol” judge Kara DioGuardi. He’s since released two albums and was nominated for a Teen Choice Award and People’s Choice Award.
7. Maddie Poppe
Maddie Poppe (age 20 on the show) auditioned with the Kermit the Frog song “The Rainbow Connection.” In the May 21, 2018 season finale, Madde got to reprise the song with Kermit himself. The Season 16 runner-up was Caleb Lee Hutchinson, who was Madde’s boyfriend at the time.
6. Jordin Sparks
Jordin Sparks (age 17 on the show) is from Glendale, Arizona and auditioned in Seattle, WA. With her victory, Jordin became the youngest winner to date. Jordin’s winning song was “This is My Now.” After “American Idol,” she was nominated for a Grammy and won a Teen Choice Award, NAACP Image Award, BET Award, American Music Award and a People’s Choice Award.
5. Phillip Phillips
Phillip Phillips (age 21 on the show) auditioned in North Charleston, singing “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” with the guitar. Phillip’s winning song was “Home” and it became a great success, going quadruple platinum. He was the last of five consecutive guitar-playing guys to win in a row. Since winning the show, he was nominated for two Teen Choice Awards and several other industry kudos.
4. Fantasia Barrino
Fantasia Barrino (age 19 on the show) auditioned in Atlanta, Georgia with Lauryn Hill’s “Killing Me Softly” and Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary.” Fantasia’s winning song was “I Believe.” Since winning the show, she starred on Broadway in “The Color Purple” and also won a Grammy in 2010.
3. David Cook
David Cook (age 25 on the show) is a native of Blue Springs, Missouri who auditioned in Omaha, Nebraska with Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer.” He was never in the bottom three even once. David’s winning song was “The Time of My Life.” Since winning the show, his self-titled first album was certified platinum and he won a Teen Choice Award.
2. Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood (age 21 on the show) auditioned in St. Louis, Missouri with Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” Carrie’s winning song was “Inside Your Heaven.” She was the first country singer to earn the title. Since winning the show, Carrie has taken home more than 100 awards including six Grammys and virtually every country music award possible; she was also nominated for a Golden Globe.
1. Kelly Clarkson
Kelly Clarkson (age 20 on the show) auditioned in Dallas, Texas with Etta James’ “At Last” and Madonna’s “Express Yourself.” Kelly’s winning song was “A Moment Like This.” To this day many fans consider her to be their favorite champ of all time. Since winning the show, she’s taken home three Grammys. In 2012, Kelly was ranked 19th on VH1’s list of 100 Greatest Women in Music and in 2013, Billboard ranked her as the 14th best-selling artist of the 2000s. She joined “The Voice” as a coach in 2018.