15 American Idol losers who found their own stardom

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Winning American Idol would be a dream come true for most performers, but for these 15 artists, it was losing that made their dreams a reality!

American Idol can only be described as a phenomenon. When it first aired on Fox in 2002, audiences were captivated. Before long, it was one of the biggest shows on television that drew in millions of votes each week in order to find the next great superstar.

The show spawned winners who went on to do great things, who we still hear about today, like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks, Fantasia Barrino, Scotty McCreery, and more. But season after season, a trend started to show: the losers were starting to outshine the winners. Early on, it was clear that winning the show wasn’t the only path to stardom, and plenty of other contestants harnessed their talent and popularity to turn their loss into a win.

From winning Grammys and Oscars to taking over Broadway, the American Idol losers — for lack of a better term — were actually the winners. With stars like Adam Lambert, Katharine McPhee, Jennifer Hudson, Tori Kelly, Todrick Hall, and so many more making hugely successful careers for themselves post-Idol, it’s clear that sometimes, winning isn’t everything!

American Idol may have been rebooted on ABC, but it might never capture what the original series did, or make the same kind of stars of the winners and losers alike. We’ll always be able to look back at the show’s original run and see just how many familiar faces we still see today! So here are 15 American Idol contestants who may have never won, but still made their own way to stardom.