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The whole point of a talent show like American Idol is that there is only one winner each year, and the competition is fierce. However, in the show’s 15-season history it has proven to be a launching point for a lot of stars, whether they actually won or not. Here are some American Idol losers who didn’t really lose after all.

1. Clay Aiken

In the second season of American Idol, Clay Aiken was the second runner up to winner Ruben Studdard, but he certainly didn’t let that slow him down. Clay has released seven studio albums, starred on Broadway and appeared on a several TV shows (including The Celebrity Apprentice where he came second again). He also wrote a memoir, was a Unicef ambassador and ran for Congress. Clay’s done pretty well for a guy that was brought back on a wildcard.

Clay Aiken
Featureflash /

2. Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson’s success makes it seem like she won AI but she actually came in 7th place on the third season. She went on to win a Grammy for best R&B album, as well as an Oscar for her performance in Dreamgirls. Jennifer also became a spokeswoman for Weight Watchers and has continued to act on film, stage and TV. Her career is on fire.

Jennifer Hudson
Joe Seer /

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