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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
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