American Idol Season 1 runner-up said he knew Kelly Clarkson would win

Justin Guarini from American Idol's first season
Justin Guarini from American Idol’s first season. Pic credit: ©

The first season of American Idol was nothing like fans watch now.

That first year, no one knew it would end up being as popular as it did. The judges were at a simple table in a room, and all the singers were walk-in auditions with no pre-screening.

Most of the singers were terrible, but a few decent competitors came along.

There was also a woman named Kelly Clarkson, and her talent arguably put American Idol on the map.

The runner-up that season, Justin Guarini, said he knew that Kelly would beat him before the finale even started.

Justin Guarini on losing to Kelly Clarkson on American Idol

American Idol worked hard to push Kelly Clarkson and runner-up Justin Guarini after the season, even making a movie that starred the two singers together.

However, Justin was just along for the ride then, and he said, looking back on it, that Kelly would always win American Idol that season no matter what he did.

In an interview with Insider, Justin said he was standing by producer Nigel Lythgoe while Kelly Clarkson was singing A Moment Like This. He reveals that he told Nigel what he thought of the competition at that moment.

“If I win this thing, you’re going to have to hire some extra security,” Justin said. Nigel asked him why, and Justin said, “Do you see that? And hear that? I was like, ‘If I win this thing, there’s going to be a riot.”

He said that it was obvious to any objective viewer that Kelly was the one that had to win.

Justin said he was excited to see Kelly win and said he had grown close to her and other competitors throughout the season. He said when Ryan Seacrest announced Kelly won, Justin was “genuinely joyful.”

“It just was so evident, to me even, that my friend was supposed to win and that it was right,” Guarini said. “I will always be one of her biggest fans because I was there from the beginning and got to see her progression.”

Caleb Lee Hutchinson agrees that it is sometimes okay to lose

Caleb Lee Hutchinson also said that he knew he would likely lose in his season, and he was okay with that.

Caleb lost to Maddie Poppe, and then he announced they were dating after the show ended. However, he was happy he lost for a different reason.

“It’s not some ‘I lost, but I’m going to look good losing’ thing. I wanted her to win so bad. I was silently going, ‘Thank God it wasn’t me,’” Caleb said

He also said he “wouldn’t have looked as cute with Mickey Mouse ears,” teasing Maddie about Disney shows she was forced to do as part of her American Idol contract.

American Idol is on hiatus. The dancing reality competition series will return to ABC in 2023.

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