Kelly Clarkson Marks 20th Anniversary of American Idol Victory: 'It Forever Changed the Course of My Life'

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Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like Kelly Clarkson had 20 years ago, when on Sept. 4, 2002, she was crowned the Season 1 winner of Fox’s American Idol.

On Sunday, the three-time Grammy winner took to Instagram to reflect on her life-altering victory.

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“Twenty years ago today I won American Idol and it forever changed the course of my life,” she said. “That moment was the door that opened up so much access and opportunity, and creative partnerships that I will be grateful for all of my days. The family and friendships I have created over these 20 years in music and TV are priceless to me.

“We only get so many trips around the sun,” she continued, “and while I am proud and feel abundantly blessed of the successes and failures that I have learned from, I am most proud and grateful for those friends that have become family, and for their arms that have held me when I needed it and their hearts that listened to me when I felt lost. Without them I would not be where I am. I would probably not be here at all.”

Clarkson went on to thank “every single person that voted 20 years ago,” before adding: “I hope all of you have people in your lives that fill you with laughter, and hope, and happiness, and if you don’t feel like you have that, then keep searching because I promise you they’re looking for you too.”

Idol‘s inaugural champ has gone on to release nine studio albums (including two Christmas LPs), which have amassed an impressive 11 Billboard Top 10 hits, including “A Moment Like This,” “Miss Independent,” “Breakaway,” “Since U Been Gone,” “Behind Those Hazel Eyes,” “Because of You,” “Never Again,” “y Life Would Suck Without You,” “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” “Mr. Know It All” and “Piece by Piece.”

Clarkson is also the recipient of five Daytime Emmys. Her syndicated talk show returns for Season 4 on Monday, Sept. 12.

Idol, meanwhile, is entering its 21st season — its sixth on ABC — in early 2023.

Relive Clarkson’s American Idol journey below, then hit the comments and tell us if you remembering watching the night Clarkson was crowned.

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