‘American Idol’ Winners Reveal How They Feel About the Show Today

Ruben Studdard, Carrie Underwood, Fantasia Barrino and Scotty McCreery

Heavy/Getty/The Kelly Clarkson Show "American Idol" winners Ruben Studdard, Carrie Underwood, Fantasia Barrino and Scotty McCreery

For 21-year-old Abi Carter, May 19 will always be a significant date in her rearview mirror, given that she was crowned the 22nd winner of “American Idol” on that day in 2024.

As she gets used to the illustrious title and all the opportunities that come with it, multiple past winners, from Carrie Underwood to Kris Allen, have posted on social media throughout the month about their own “Idol” anniversaries and how grateful they still feel today looking back on their “Idol” journeys.

Iam Tongi Reflects on One Year Since His ‘American Idol’ Win

The day after Carter’s win, 2023 winner Iam Tongi congratulated the current class, including Carter, and celebrated his milestone year on social media, sharing photos from the night he won.

The 19-year-old wrote, “Can’t believe it’s been a year!!! I miss it all, mostly miss the people and the hangout, but it’s been a great year, I got to go home and graduate hight school( I never thought I would), got to meet some of my idols and people I look up to, got to tour and do what I love and on those shows meet great people and life long friends, got to see @allenstone live in concert and got to travel and perform out side of America for the first time ever.”

Tongi continued that “it would not have been possible if it wasn’t for all for the people who supported me and voted and just showed love and kindness towards me” and also thanked his family for supporting and encouraging him.

After a year of touring the world and putting out music, including two new singles, Tongi told Heavy that the year wasn’t quite what he initially expected because there was such a steep learning curve to understand how the music business works. But in the end, he said the show has allowed him to live out his dreams.

Carrie Underwood Recalls Auditioning for ‘Idol’ 20 Years Ago

On the same day Tongi posted his one-year milestone post, one of the show’s biggest stars, Carrie Underwood, posted a 20-year-old photo of herself waiting to audition for the show’s fourth season, which she would go on to win in May 2005. At the time, she was a 21-year-old small town girl from Checotah, Oklahoma.

To caption her throwback photo, Underwood wrote, “REFLECTION of the week: contestant number #14887 received her golden ticket to Hollywood! I can’t believe it has been almost 20 years since auditioning for @AmericanIdol!”

After winning “Idol,” Underwood has gone on to win seven Grammy Awards, 16 Billboard Music Awards, 11 Academy of Country Music Awards and eight American Music Awards, along with a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song, per Taste of Country. 

Scotty McCreery Says ‘I Love It Here’ Upon Return to ‘Idol’ Stage

When season 10 winner Scotty McCreery performed on the April 28 episode, he posted a video from the backlot of the Hollywood studio where “Idol” is filmed and celebrated his return.

Having just scored his sixth consecutive number one country single with “Cab in a Solo,” McCreery captioned the post by writing, “Back to where it all began with my new #1 song!”

Grateful to be back on the show where he got his start, McCreery said in the video, “I am back on the ‘Idol’ stage. It always feels like home, I love it here.”

Kris Allen Says He’s ‘So Grateful’ For ‘American Idol’

On May 19, season 8 winner Kris Allen posted an Instagram video of him learning he’d beat fellow “Idol” contestant Adam Lambert for the title, and wrote, “Happy 15th Idol Winnerversary Everyone!”

Over the video of his Ryan Seacrest announcing his name as the winner, Allen wrote, “15 years ago today this happened. that shock…it’s never worn off. it’s hard to believe that’s even me standing up there. I know this is going to sound incredibly cheesy but…this was a dream come true. not that I ever dreamt of winning a tv show…the dream was to make music and this show and the people watching it gave me the opportunity to make that dream a reality.”

“I’m so grateful for my time on American Idol,” Allen continued as the video showed photos from his run on the show. “The memories…the opportunities…the friends…I love these people. But honestly, i don’t know if i was ready. I didn’t know what I wanted to sound like, what I wanted to say, if I was good enough … but I did know how to work and for the last 15 years that’s what I’ve been doing, trying to figure out the answers to those questions in rooms with other songwriters, in countless hours by myself, on stages around the world.”

Allen has a full schedule of summer 2024 concerts across the U.S. and a new single out called “Guinevere.”

Ruben Studdard Says His ‘Dream Became Reality’ on ‘American Idol’

Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard, who beat out Clay Aiken but is still dear friends with him, posted on May 21 about his anniversary of winning the show 21 years ago.

Sharing an old photo of himself at the show, Studdard wrote, “On May 21st 2003 my dream became a reality. I’m a living witness that God will give you the desires of your heart.. Thank you to all the people that voted and prayed for me. 205 We did it!!!”

Studdard and Aiken still tour together periodically and even competed together on “The Masked Singer” in May. In addition to becoming a dad for the second time in March, the R&B crooner has been making the media rounds promoting his latest album, “The Way I Remember It.” 

Caleb Johnson Thanks ‘Idol’ for Letting Him ‘Live Out My Dream’

On May 21, season 13 rock singer Caleb Johnson honored the anniversary of his big win by posting a photo of himself on the red carpet that night.

Johnson wrote, “10 years ago this baby faced rock n roller won @americanidol ! Left it all out on the stage every week and had a total blast doing it! Thank you for letting me live out my dream ! Here’s to 10 more rocking years 🤘⚡️🤘 #americanidol”

Johnson’s website says he’s still “on a mission to spread the gospel of rock-n-roll” and that he’s toured with KISS, Black Stone Cherry, and Trans Siberian Orchestra. He continues to tour the U.S. and, according to a March Instagram post, he will spend September rocking stages across England.

Fantasia Barrino Tells ‘Idol’ Audience That Show ‘Opened So Many Doors’ For Her

Fantasia made a surprise appearance on the season 22 finale to celebrate the 20th anniversary of her season 3 “Idol” win in 2004.

Though she faced multiple challenges along the way, Barrino has since won a Grammy and starred on Broadway, per Deadline, and racked up tons of awards and nominations for her 2023 starring role in Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg’s movie musical of “The Color Purple.”

She inspired the season 22 contestants by talking on the live finale about her journey since “Idol,” telling them, “All I can say is, I never gave up. Even when doors closed in my face, I knew God had something for me.”

“I went through a lot of things,” she continued. “But here I stand, better than ever. I never changed for anybody. I still live in North Carolina, I’m a North Carolina girl and I remain humble. And I know that if it had not been for this show… This show opened so many doors. So I’m saying to you, and all of you who are watching, this show opens doors and we’re grateful for it and thank you.”